Punjab has amended an archaic central government law to pave the way for women in the state to work during late-night hours in factories.
The state government has amended the Factories Act, 1948, as part of its ongoing labour reforms, enabling factory owners to employ women in the night shift from 10pm to 5am.
The government has also amended the Punjab Shops & Commercial Establishment Act, 1958, which would also authorise information and technology (IT), hospitality, health and other service sectors to employ women for the night shift. The amendments in the act are likely to come into force from next week.
However, in order to ensure security of women employees who would work in the night hours, the factory owners and the service sector have to adhere to 24 conditions laid down in the act. On the demand of the textile industry in the state, the Punjab government had permitted women to work during the night shift in 2010.
Punjab labour minister Chunni Lal Bhagat said allowing women to work during night hours was a long-pending demand of factory owners as well as the service sector.
“This will not only provide more employment opportunities to the women but also help the industry register positive growth,” he added.
“This will go on to show that Punjab is a peaceful state and women can come out of their houses to work even at night,” the minister said.
Eight factories have sought permission
The director, Punjab labour department, HS Nanda, stated that after the amendments were incorporated in the Factories Act, eight factories had sought permission from the government to employee women during night hours.
“About 1,100 women are already working in these factories at night,”
Nanda said. “With the amendment in the Punjab Shops & Commercial Establishment Act likely to come into force next week, more than 10,000 women are expected to benefit from it”, said Nanda.
mandatory conditions for industry owners
As per the act, the conditions mandatory for industry owners to adhere to for the safety and security of women include: prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment; provide appropriate working conditions in respect of work, leisure, health and hygiene; and provide separate canteen and transport facility for women.