In light of the powers conferred under the Punjab Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1958 (“Punjab S&E”) and superseding all the earlier notifications in this regard, the Government of Haryana vide notification (No. 4490) (“Notification”) dated February 21st, 2023, has laid down certain conditions for employment of women employees during night shifts from 08:00 PM to 06:00 AM working in establishments such as IT, ITeS, Banking establishments, three star or above hotels, hundred percent export oriented establishments, logistics and warehousing establishments, registered under the Punjab S&E in the State of Haryana. This step has been taken by the State Government of Haryana to ensure security, safety, and to safeguard the interest of women employees and apply for grant of exemption regarding such employment of women employees.
Following are some of the key conditions enumerated under the Notification regarding the employment of women employees during night shifts:
- Application for grant of exemption shall not be entertained by the Labour Commissioner or the Chief Inspector of Shops of Haryana unless received 1 (one) month prior to the date of commencement of the period for which the exemption is applied for. Subject to any change of security, transportation agreements and details of occupier/director/manager, the exemption will be valid for a period of 1 (one) year from the date of order of exemption.
- Prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and formulate procedures in line with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”).
- The female employees should be allowed to raise issues of sexual harassment in appropriate forum be it in writing, electronic form or through a complaint box. Further, the female employees should be made aware of their rights by prominently notifying the guidelines on the same.
- Maintain a complaint redressal mechanism ensuring time-bound treatment of complaints and take appropriate action in case of any criminal case or misconduct arising during the course of employment.
- Submit a declaration stating that the women employee has consented to work during night shift from 08:00 PM to 06:00 AM.
- Provide transportation facility to women employees from residence and back for the night shifts and in case of buses, the vehicle should be equipped with CCTV cameras.
- Provide a minimum of 12 (twelve) consecutive hours of rest or gap between the shifts.
- Sufficient security guards should be deployed and work sheds shall be provided to the female employees to arrive in advance and also leave after the working hours.
- A minimum of 1/3rd (one third) of the total strength during night shift shall be women including the supervisor or shift in-charge and other employees, in case of logistics and warehousing establishments.
- Provide proper lighting inside the shop/establishment which shall also extend to the surrounding of it and to such places where female employees may move out of necessity in the course of such shift.
- Provide separate canteen facility if the threshold of female employees crosses 50 (fifty) however, such facility will not be provided to female employees who are employed in IT and ITeS sectors. No such clarity has been provided by the Haryana Government as to why IT and ITeS enabled sectors are exempted regrading the same.
- The employers are required to comply with the provisions of Punjab S&E, rules of other statutory provisions pertaining to hours of work and the payment of Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and all other labour legislations.
The Notification passed by the Haryana Government is a step in the right direction ensuring safety, security, equality, and job opportunity for women workforce in India. The conditions stipulated under the Notification seems to draw a parallel with the objective of the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (“OSH Code”) which is yet to be implemented by the Government of India.
The Notification mandates that the employers are required to comply with several social security legislations such as the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (“EPF”), the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (“ESI”) and Haryana Labour Welfare Fund thereby, safeguarding and protecting the interests of the women workers employed in their respective establishments during night shifts.