Factories can allot the night shift to women, as the Maharashtra state cabinet on Wednesday amended its rules following representations from women’s rights groups and a court order.
The factories, however, will have to tell the state how it plans to ensure the safety and security of the women working at night.
The cabinet amended the Factories Act, 1948 – a section of which earlier allowed women to work in factories only between 7am and 6pm.
There are 14,300 factories that come under this act in Maharashtra.
“This decision will ensure women can be put on the night shifts. However, the factories who opt for this, must present a plan on how they will take care of the safety and security of the women who work at night,” said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, while making the announcement after the cabinet session.
Along with this, the cabinet also decided to make changes in the Factories Act to free companies from the inspector Raj.
The Factories Act, 1948, lays down the safety guidelines and working conditions for men and women employed in factories and applies to units with more than 10 workers in premises with power supply, and 20 workers in premises without power.
Smaller industries are usually excluded from the Act’s provisions.
However, with the proposed amendment, the limit of the number of workers in premises without power has been increased from 20 to 40.
Further, a condition that the prior approval of the management is needed for overtime work has been done away with.
The government has proposed an overtime of 115 hours, from the present level of 75, to workers in small scale industrial units.