On February 22nd, 2023, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly (subsequently the Legislative Council) passed a Bill to amend the Factories Act, 1948, to allow women to work night shifts in factories. Furthermore, the change allows people who work 12 hours a day for four consecutive days to have a three-day break each week.
The Bill allows women to work night shifts (between 7 pm to 6 am) in factories, subject to employer-specified safety measures. The Bill requires businesses to combat sexual harassment and provide women workers with CCTV and GPS-equipped transportation during night hours. Employers must also provide acceptable working conditions for women and not discriminate against any employee in the course of their employment. The Bill requires that women be hired in groups of at least ten and that factories have enough lighting and CCTV coverage, with film kept for at least 45 days.
With regard to hours of work and overtime, the Bill seeks to empower the State Government to extend the daily maximum hours of work up to 12 hours (including the breaks/rest intervals), provided that the maximum weekly hours of work do not exceed 48 hours. Such extension may be subject to conditions laid down by the government and requires the written consent of the workers to work for extended hours of work.
As per the extant Factories Act, 1948, the workers are entitled to rest intervals every 5 hours of work, however, the Bill seeks to extend the same to 6 hours. Further, the total overtime hours in a quarter shall not exceed 144 hours.
The Bill also requires that the workers should consent to work overtime.