Giving more employment opportunities to women, Punjab government has allowed women to work in night shift in shops and commercial establishments in the state.
Punjab Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in this regard was passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday.
With the passage of the Bill, women in the state can now work during night shifts in shops and commercial establishments, though strict conditions will be enforced to ensure their safety during night, an official of Punjab labour department said on Thursday.
This move is expected to benefit information technology sector which operates call centres, shopping malls, multiplexes and other such establishments which work during night hours, official said.
Notably, Punjab had already allowed women to work in factories during night shift.
The timing of night shift is 8 pm till 6 am.
Barring few establishments including health, there was a complete ban on employment of women during night shift in shops and commercial establishments.
"If women workers are not allowed to work during night, it will be discrimination against them and employers also face difficulty in managing shifts. To ensure women empowerment and more employment opportunities to them, women should be allowed to work during night shift," said Punjab labour minister Chuni Lal Bhagat.
"There has been substantial increase in number of women in the workforce and they are working alongwith men," the minister said.
Official of Punjab labour department said before allowing women to work during night, concerned authorities will ensure necessary steps are taken by employers for providing security to women and transportation from office to home during night shift.
Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly has also passed a Minimum Wages (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2015 whereby teachers in unaffiliated private schools and coaching centres in Punjab will now be ensured minimum wages.
A large number of persons including teachers are not covered within the definition of employee under Minimum Wages Act. To prevent exploitation of such employees, it is necessary to cover such persons within the definition of employee under the Act, said the minister.
Under section 2(i) of the Minimum Wages Act 1948, only those persons are covered under the definition of employee who perform skilled or unskilled, manual or clerical work. A person who does not perform any of the above mentioned work is not covered under the definition of employee.
An official of Punjab Labour department said that the Minimum Wages Advisory Board after taking feedback of all stakeholders including representative of teachers and employers would notify the minimum wages.
At present, Punjab is giving minimum wages of Rs 9,356.75 for highly skilled, Rs 8,324.75 for skilled, Rs 7,427.75 for semi skilled and Rs 6,647.75 for unskilled workers.