News: Maharashtra Government open to women working night shifts

Diversity

Maharashtra Government open to women working night shifts

The Maharashtra government issued a notification allowing shops, cinema halls, salons, etc. to remain open 24x7 in the state. This amendment also paves the way for night shifts for women from 9.30pm to 7 am with their consent and specific regulations. The main idea behind this notification is to improve ease of doing business.
Maharashtra Government open to women working night shifts

The state government of Maharashtra has issued a notification to the Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, 2017, allowing shops which include restaurants (that do not serve alcohol), cinema halls, salons, hyper malls and businesses such as banks, medical establishments, and tax consultancies, to remain open 24x7 in the state. It does not include liquor shops and bars.

This amendment and notification also pave the way for night shifts for women from 9.30pm to 7 are with their consent and certain regulations. On this new change, Labour Minister, Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar shares in media, “We expect women-driven businesses to get a boost from this move. At least five lakh new licenses are estimated to be issued under the act shortly.”

Under the regulation, the establishments will have to ensure protection to women by ensuring their safety, dignity, and protection from sexual harassment. The employer will also have to provide transportation for women working after 9.30pm. The employees will be entitled to pay for overtime duties, paid leaves, first aide, canteen facilities and a creche.

Violations leading to serious injury or death of employees may lead to imprisonment of six months or a penalty of up to Rs5 lakh to the employer. Violation of other duties towards workers may attract a fine up to Rs2 lakh.

With this new law, establishments with less than ten workers will not have to obtain a license or need to renew their licenses. Establishments with more than ten workers will get licenses in a time-bound manner.

People Matters in an interview with Anshul Prakash, Parner, Khaitan & Co., uncovers some of the dilemmas that the establishments and women employees might have. Here is the excerpts from the conversation:

 Anshul shares:

This is a landmark legislation that facilitates ease of doing business in the state of Maharashtra. Amongst other things, this legislation recognizes the right of women to pursue their vocation without any stigma or hindrance. The law prohibits discrimination of women in matters of recruitment, training, transfers or promotion or wages. Further, women employees will have their say in working during night shifts, as their prior consent has been made mandatory under the legislation. If employers comply with the new Act both in its letter and spirit, the legislation will undoubtedly achieve its dual motive of facilitating commerce and empowering women employees. Proactiveness on the part of the competent authorities in this regard to look into any claims of violation will be imperative in ensuring that the new law achieves its objective. 

 

Anshul suggested legislation in clear terms states that prior consent of women employees is a pre-requisite for engaging them in night shifts. While some errant owners may try to arm-twist women employees into working night shifts, such aggrieved women employee must immediately approach the authorized government inspectors and report non-compliance with the Act.

 On being asked how the shop owners can ensure security, Anshul shares, “The Act mandates employers to undertake necessary acts to protect the dignity, honor, and safety of their women employees in particular. The employers must arrange night transportation from the establishment to the doorstep of their residence. Employers may also consider taking additional actions like arranging for security guards of reputed agencies to accompany women employees to their residences, installing CCTV cameras at the workplace, making available creche facilities, use GPS-enabled transport vehicles, plan work-shifts in a manner that group of women employees work together during night shifts, etc.”

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