Karnataka opens up night shifts for women

BS Yediyurappa

Women across Karnataka will now be permitted to work night shifts at their jobs in shops and commercial establishments. 

The Cabinet on Monday approved an amendment to the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act to this effect. 

“The Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2019, will be tabled in the next session of the legislature,” Law Minister J C Madhuswamy said, briefing reporters.

“There was no provision for women to work in night shifts. This resulted in a lack of opportunities. So, the law is being amended to allow women to work. We have specified safety measures that need to be provided,” he said. 

Once passed, the amendment will mean that women will be able to work night shifts at hotels, restaurants, cafes, theatres and other such shops and establishments. 

However, this comes with a set of conditions to ensure the safety of women employees.

Firstly, employers have to obtain written consent of women willing to work at night. They have to provide transport facilities from the residence of the woman employee to the workplace and back; the transport facility should have GPS tracking and monitoring.

The night shift of women employees has to be on a rotational basis, adequate security guards have to be posted, free creches have to established to provide for their children, there has to be a thorough background check of the drivers. These are among other safety measures employers have to put in place, according to the Bill.

Section 25 of the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act prohibits women from working at night. However, the IT and ITeS sectors were exempted in 2002. 

In November this year, the Labour Department issued a notification allowing women to work night shifts (7 pm to 6 am) in all factories registered with the government. With that, the government threw open the manufacturing sector for women to work in.

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