WOMEN EMPLOYEES in Haryana may soon be able to take care of their children while at work. Last week, the state government notified draft rules to make a “creche facility” mandatory for every establishment — private and public — that has 50 or more employees.
The draft rules state that women employees will be allowed to make four visits of 20 minutes each to the creche during working hours, apart from a rest period of 30 minutes for themselves.
Aiming to amend the Haryana Maternity Benefit Rules 1967, the draft states that the facility will accommodate children under the age of six years. It also says the move will cover regular, temporary, daily wage, contractual and consultant employees.
The earlier rules did not provide for any such facility. However, the chief inspector of the state’s Labour Department has been empowered to allow multiple establishments to use a single creche if the official is convinced that it will not result in inconvenience to employees.
The draft rules were notified on July 9, when the government invited suggestions and objections to be submitted at the office of the state’s Labour Commissioner within 45 days, after which the initiative will be implemented.
Officials said the move follows instructions from the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment this February asking state governments to extend this benefit to women employees. According to a 2016 census of Haryana government employees, women comprise around 34 per cent of their total strength in the state.
According to the draft rules, the creche has to be established by the employer within the work-place premises or 500m from its entrance. They also state that if a child is less than 15 months old, the mother would be allowed additional visits of 20 minutes each, depending on the need.
“Although several states are yet to amend their rules, Haryana has decided to implement it as early as possible. The draft rules have been notified and shall soon be implemented,” a senior government official told The Indian Express.
The draft rules have also laid down norms for the building that will house the creche: heat-resistant and waterproof material for roofs and walls, smooth surface for floors and interiors of walls, lime-washing of interior walls every six months. Besides, the woodwork inside should be painted or varnished once every three years.
The norms also state that the creche should have a minimum space of 6-8 sq ft per child to ensure that children can play, rest and learn without hindrance. It stipulates that the height of the rooms should not be less than 12 feet.
Among the other facilities, each creche should have first-aid and medicine kits, cradles, cots with bedding, cooking facilities, cooking utensils, feeding utensils, washrooms, facilities to wash soiled clothes, emergency lighting, adequate ventilation and emergency power back-up.
Apart from trained staff, employers will also have to ensure that medical examination of children is conducted every month by a registered medical practitioner, with records to be maintained.