The Uttar Pradesh government has made the written consent of women employees compulsory for night shifts between 7 pm and 6 am.
Besides their consent, new rules say that women can be on night shifts only if there are at least four women on the shift and they have to be provided proper transport and working facilities.
While new rules introduce these measures for the purpose of women's ease of working, they also relax assigning of night shifts to women by making it an internal company affair by cutting bureaucratic intervention.
Here we explain what are the new rules, what's the intention behind them, how they will be enforced, and how bureaucratic red-tape has been cut.
What are new rules?
Earlier, employers had to get permission for assigning night shift to women, which had to be approved by the labour officer and several other officials.
The time-consuming process has now been replaced with an internal process where employers can assign night shifts to women with their written consent.
The following guidelines have been laid down for women's night shifts:
- At least four women have to be there on the shift for women to be on night shifts
- Employers have to provide free transportation between workplace and home
- Arrangements for food, drinking water, washrooms, changing rooms to be made
- Sufficient supervision to be arranged during work and commute
How will these rules be enforced?
While employers don't need to take permissions, they have to notify the officials who can inspect workplaces to see if everything is in line with norms.
The Times of India reported, "The process was time-consuming as it first had to be approved by the labour officer and then directed to several other officers before the final nod.
"The employers will have to send a monthly report electronically to the inspector of factories about the details of women workers engaged during night shift and inform about any untoward incidents to the inspector of factories and the local police station."
Moreover, the Police Station House Officer under whose limits the workplace falls will inspect and verify the arrangements.
The idea behind new rules
The new rules have been brought in with the intention to improve the ease of working for women to provider a safer working environment.
Besides making consent necessary for assigning night shift, new rules also put the onus on the employer to prevent sexual harassment, as per ANI.
The government order cited by ANI stated, "The onus of providing a secure working atmosphere to the women workers will lie with the employer to prevent an incident of sexual harassment in the workplace.
"Moreover, the GO makes it mandatory for the employer to inculcate a robust complaint mechanism in the factory in compliance with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 or in any other related enactments."
What were earlier rules?
Earlier, women were barred from working in factories between 7 pm-6 am. The state government has now allowed women to work with conditions listed above.
The Economic Times reported, "Officials said this was done by relaxing a rule under the Factories Act, 1948 to promote ease of doing business in the state as well as to provide equal opportunity of work to women."