Women can now work night shifts in KA

Karnataka Legislative Assembly passes Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill allowing women to work night shifts and increasing daily work hours to 12 with provisions for rest periods and safety measures.

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The Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill was passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, amending the Factories Act to allow women to work night shifts at factories. This move has been applauded as a step towards gender equality and providing equal opportunity to women. The Bill was passed without any debate in the Assembly.

J C Madhuswamy, the Law & Parliamentary Affairs Minister, explained that there were limitations on work hours for women, and the government had been under pressure to relax these restrictions, including from the software industry. He also mentioned that the High Court had directed that equal opportunities must be provided to all under Article 14 of the Constitution.

In 2020, the government had allowed women to work night shifts in hotels, restaurants, cafes, theatres, and other such establishments. The Bill now extends this provision to factories, subject to a list of safety norms that must be put in place by employers. Employers must provide transport facilities to women workers from their residences and back during night shifts. Additionally, the vehicles must be equipped with CCTV and GPS.

According to the Bill, employees who work for 12 hours a day for four consecutive days, not exceeding 48 hours, can take off for three days in a week. The Bill also allows the government to increase daily work hours to 12 from 9, not exceeding 48 hours a week. The government believes that this will create more economic activities and employment opportunities.

The Bill also emphasises that employers must ensure appropriate working conditions for women and that no employee should have cause to believe that there is a bias against her regarding her employment. Moreover, women workers must be employed in a batch of not less than 10 to ensure their safety. The factories must have proper lighting and CCTV coverage, with footage stored for at least 45 days. This will deter any miscreants who may seek to cause trouble. The Bill also allows the government to fix work hours for overtime duty during which employees have to be paid wages at the rate of twice the ordinary rate of wages.

The Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly is a significant step towards gender equality and providing equal opportunities to women. The Bill outlines several safety measures that employers must implement to ensure the safety and security of women workers during night shifts. The Bill also aims to increase economic activities and employment opportunities by increasing the work hours to 12 hours a day for four consecutive days, with provisions for adequate rest periods.

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