Earlier under Section 66 of the Factories Act (“Act”), 1948 women were barred from working between 07:00 (Seven) PM and 06:00 (Six) AM. However, the Government of Uttar Pradesh recently introduced a new set of conditions vide an order dated May 27, 2022, wherein factories in the state will be exempted from restrictions subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.
To ensure the safety and security of the women workers at factories, the order states that no women worker shall be forced to work before 06:00 (Six) AM and after 07:00 (Seven) PM without her written consent and shall not be terminated if denied working during such hours.
In addition to this, to secure a safe working environment for women workers, the employer needs to provide certain facilities which have been mandated under the order including but not limited to toilets, changing room, drinking facilities, food, free transportation to and from their residence along with steps to prevent sexual harassment at workplace.
Following are the conditions stipulated under the order:
- No women worker shall be bound to work without her written consent before 06:00 (Six) AM and after 07:00 (Seven) PM and shall not be terminated from her employment if she denies working between 07:00 (Seven) PM to 06:00 (Six) AM.
- Women worker working between 07:00 (Seven) PM to 06:00 (Six) AM shall be provided food, sufficient supervision during working hours and journey along with free transportation from her residence to workplace by the employer of the factory and back. Further, employer shall ensure toilets, washrooms, changing room, drinking facilities and light near the workplace.
- During the working between 07:00 (Seven) PM to 06:00 (Six) AM, not less than four women workers shall be allowed to work in the premises or a particular department.
- Employer shall intimate the proposed arrangement in terms of employment of female workers to the Inspector of factories of region concerned, for verification, affording him a maximum period of 7 (Seven) days for such verification.
- The employer shall send a monthly report electronically or otherwise to the Inspector of factories of region concerned about the details of women workers engaged during night shift and shall also send express report whenever there is some untoward incident to the Inspector of factories of region concerned, and local Police Station as well.
- The Inspector of factories shall enforce the safe working conditions of women worker and carefully take note of the non-compliance in their inspection from time to time.
- Employer shall take appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment. The employer shall maintain a complaint mechanism in the factory itself as prescribed in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention. Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 or in any other related enactments.
- The women worker shall be made aware of their rights in particular by prominently displaying the guideline as may be required.
- Permission shall be deemed cancelled automatically on violation of any conditions prescribed above by employer of the factory.
The Uttar Pradesh Government by relaxing a rule under the Act not only promotes the ease of doing business but also provides equal opportunity for work to women workers in the state. The effect of the order would be beneficial for those employers who are planning on employing women workers on night shifts in the factory. Therefore, employers who fulfil the conditions stipulated under the order will be able to easily get women workers to discharge their respective duties.