Industries in Haryana can now apply for exemption from employing women during night shift. The Haryana government on Monday said factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948, can apply for the exemption from employing women in the night shift from 7 pm to 6 am. The state directed employers to strictly follow the guidelines to ensure safety and security of women at workplaces before applying for such exemption, a spokesman of the labour department said.
The relaxation will be valid for one year from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette. However, the employer should follow provisions of the Factories Act, rules related to hours of work, the Payment of Equal Remuneration Act, and all other labour legislations.
“These are necessary to make women feel safe, secure and free from any kind of harassment at workplaces and improve the climate for setting up industrial units in the state,” he added. Elaborating on the conditions for granting the exemption, the spokesman said it should be the duty of the employer or other responsible persons at workplaces or institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment.
The employer should also provide for procedures for resolution, statement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment by taking all steps required and appointing not less than two female wardens per night shift who will go around and work as special welfare assistants.
With a view to preventing sexual harassment at workplaces, the factory managements should frame regulations relating to conduct and discipline, provide for appropriate penalties against the offenders and also introduce amendments, wherever necessary, in standing orders, he said.
The spokesman said they should provide appropriate working conditions in respect of work, leisure, health, and hygiene and ensure there is no hostile environment towards women and no woman employee should have reasonable ground to believe that she is disadvantaged.
Additionally, the employer should maintain a complaint redressal mechanism in the factory which should ensure time-bound treatment of complaints, he added. Other requirements include provision of proper lighting not only inside the factory but in the surroundings and at all places where female workers might move out of necessity during such shift. The rules put the onus on the employer to ensure women workers are employed in a batch not less than 10, and the total women workers employed in a night shift should not be less than 2/3rd of the total strength.
Among other conditions, a separate canteen facility should be provided for female employees. The employer should provide transportation facility to women workers from their residence and back (for the night shift) along with security guards (including female guards). Each transportation vehicle needs to be equipped with CCTV cameras.