The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Thursday cleared the Bill that allows shops and establishments to operate round the clock and remain open all seven days in a week. At present, shops have to be shut by 10 pm while restaurants can run till 12:30 am. The Devendra Fadnavis government has justified the major reform, claiming it was a step towards improving the ease of doing business in the state.
“The recent advancements in information and technology has revolutionised the mode of trading, making it possible to sell goods and services online without any physical, geographical and time limitations. To allow offline businesses to compete with the online businesses, it has become necessary to permit shops and establishments for 24 hours and all days in a week,” state Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar has said.
Incidentally, Shiv Sena’s heir apparent Aditya Thackeray was locked in the politics of credit over the reform with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the issue.
The provisions of the new bill apply to shops, residential hotels, restaurants, theatres and amusement places to which the provisions of the Factories Act do not apply. It also applies to establishments, which include businesses involved in banking, stocks, medical practice, architects, engineers, accountants, tax consultants and professional consultants. There are over 38.5 lakh such establishments in the state.
While lifting the time restrictions for shops and establishments, the government has, however, ruled that the workers employed by such establishments will not work for more than nine hours a day or 48 hours a week. It also ruled that the overtime allowance will be twice the basic wage. Workers will get at least one weekly holiday and will be entitled to paid leave, maternity leave and various welfare provisions.
While the bill was approved unanimously, Congress MLA and former minister Varsha Gaikwad posed a question regarding the security measures being put in place for women working in such establishments. Replying to the query, the CM and the labour minister said that the employers would need the consent from women employees to depute them for 9.30 pm-7 am shift after being satisfied about such security measures. Fadnavis also clarified to the House that not every establishment would be permitted to run 24×7. The state will soon formulate rules specifying conditions where such permission to operate could be granted.
The government will nominate a facilitator with the local body to oversee the registration and implementation of the reform. The government has also relaxed the norms regarding the registrations for shops and establishments employing less than 10 employees. Employers violating the provisions of the law can be fined up to Rs 5 lakh.