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Hotels may now be called 'factories'

The UPA Govt is planning a proposal to increase the penalty on employers convicted for the same offence under the Factories Act, reports Srinand Jha.
Hindustan Times | By Srinand Jha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2008 02:01 AM IST

Hotels will be classified as "factories" and the definition of a "hazardous industry" will be substantially broad-based if amendments proposed to the Factories Act of 1948 come through.

Aiming to enhance safety and welfare of the workers, the UPA government is planning a proposal to increase the penalty on employers convicted for the same offence under the Factories Act.

Definitive clauses to check deficiency of oxygen in confined spaces such as boilers and furnaces have also been suggested.

Draft proposals were discussed at Wednesday's high-level meeting convened by the Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and attended by representatives of the CII, FICCI and Assocham. The draft, containing suggestions of central ministries concerned and state governments is likely to be forwarded to the Labour Ministry for final approval soon.

Proposed amendments favour deletion of the Act's 1st Schedule (which identifies 29 items under the definition of a hazardous industry) and vesting the Inspector of Factories with powers to define a hazardous industry.

Industry leaders, however, have serious objections to the clause as they feel that the Factory Inspectors could misuse their authority. The Union government has conveyed its willingness to re-consider the clause, sources said.

At the meeting, industry representatives were also unwilling to accept recommendations favouring classification of hotels as factories. Their suggestion was that only kitchen and laundry activities be placed under the Factories Act. Sources said the government has agreed to give this proposal a second thought as well.

Enhanced penalty (up from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 6 lakh) has been proposed for employers found guilty under the Act while the penalty for workers has been reduced from Rs 300 to Rs 200. No change has been proposed in the clause regarding three years' imprisonment for employers.

Industry representatives were also critical of the proposed amendments relating to the definition of the manufacturing process of printing presses. Amendments suggested are that the process should be defined to include activities of printing, lithography, offset, flexography and others.

Industry leaders said in view of the rapid technological changes taking places, a more generic definition of printing activities would be appropriate.

Strong opposition was also voiced in respect of suggestions favouring extension of the actionable time available to the Inspectors of Factories (from three months to a proposed year) for finalising the charges.

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