Govt may open up night shifts to non-IT sector women soon

Bills to amend relevant Acts to be tabled at legislature session
Last Updated 24 February 2016, 18:32 IST

A decade after women were allowed to work in night shifts in the IT and IT-enabled service sectors, the State government has initiated the process to open the non-IT sector to the fair sex for working in night shifts. This is a long-pending demand from the industry and women’s organisations.

Bills seeking an amendment to the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1961, and the Factories Act, 1948, will be tabled in the legislature during the budget session. The present Act doesn’t allow women to work from 8 pm to 6 am.
The Factories Act needs Presidential assent as it is a Central Act.

Once approved, it opens a sea of opportunities for women in non-IT sectors like garments, manufacturing and biotechnology. Already, an estimated 30,000 women are working in IT and ITES sector. If amendments are made, opportunities will be open in over four lakh firms registered under the Act. The proposal has been sent by the Labour department to the Law department for vetting.

“Administratively, we have no objection to women working in night shifts,” Labour Commissioner D S Vishwanath told Deccan Herald, expressing confidence of getting all hurdles cleared by the end of March.

Those employing women in night shifts have to provide crèche facilities for their children besides ensuring safety, with adequate security in place.

Though Karnataka was the first to exempt IT and ITES companies from the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act in 2004-05, it is not the first to open up night shifts for women in non-IT sectors.

States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana have already done it.

Ban on night shift
In 2007, citing safety and security aspects, the State banned women from working in night shifts in factories and commercial establishments, including hospitality and health sectors.

This, however, was revoked within a few days, owing to pressure from industry and women’s organisations.

(Published 24 February 2016, 18:30 IST)

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