Employees have ‘right to sit’: TN Bill

The Bill will benefit employees of large and small establishments, especially showrooms, as they will now be provided chairs to sit whenever they wish to

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A Bill was tabled by the Tamil Nadu government that seeks a mandate for all shops and establishments to make provisions for their employees to sit. This Bill will especially benefit employees working at jewellery showrooms and garments shops, who end up standing for long hours.

The Bill was presented in the Legislative Assembly on September 6, 2021 and sought relevant amendments in the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act, 1947, so that a subsection may be introduced for mandatory provision of seating facilities for employees.

A similar amendment was made in the Kerala Shops and Establishments Act in 2018 to provide seating arrangements for employees.

The proposed amendment in Section 22-A to the Act mandates all establishments to provide seating arrangements for staff so that they may sit whenever they get a chance to, during their duty hours, and do not end up standing all the time causing harm to their health.

The suggestion to mandate seating arrangements was mooted in 2019, at a State Labour Advisory Board Meeting, and the members had unanimously agreed to the same. At the time,while the Bill was widely welcomed by employees’ unions across the state, the traders’ unions had opposed the same. The latter felt that the state government should not meddle in the affairs of the private sector and that the workers’ needs —including rest and refreshments — are adequately taken care of.

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