The amendments to the Factories Act, the Apprentices Act and the Labour Laws (exemption from furnishing returns and maintaining registers by certain establishments) Act were approved by Cabinet last night
As part of labour reforms, the government has amended three archaic laws to provide for doubling of the overtime hours from 50 per quarter and enabling women to work in night shifts among other changes which evoked sharp critism from labour unions.
The amendments to the Factories Act, the Apprentices Act and the Labour Laws (exemption from furnishing returns and maintaining registers by certain establishments) Act were approved by Cabinet last night.
"The Cabinet has given its approval (for the amendments). The amendments would be beneficial for the labourers," Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said here today. "We expect that it will be tabled in the present session of Parliament," he added.
Among the changes made in the laws are relaxing of certain norms to enable women to work in night shifts, doubling the provision of overtime from 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours in some cases and from 75 hours to 125 hours in other work of public interest and others.
According to Minister of State Labour and Employment Vishnu Deo Sai, the amendment to the Factories Act was to make it more compatible to the requirement of the present scenario in industrial sector. However, trade unions critisized the "hasty, employer-friendly amendments" in the name of development and are likely to meet soon to decide action programme against it.
"Under the cover of so-called gender parity, the amendments said that women can work in night shifts. We feel that in the Indian context, the time has not come for us that we can leave our sisters and daughters so that they work in night shifts. We are against that. Congenial atmosphere is still not there so as to let women work the night shifts," said AITUC Secretary D L Sachdev.
Talking about the provision for doubling the overtime hours from 50 per quarter, he said that through this, more liberty is being given to the employer.
"While AITUC is not opposed to simplification process per se in maintaining registers and sending returns for each Act for small and medium enterprises, it opposes increasing the ambit of such industries from 10 to 40 workers. It should have been done gradually," he said.
On Apprentice Act, no provision has been made for monitoring breach by provisions of the employers, he said.
According to an amendment proposed in the Apprentices Act, it will now not be compulsory for an employer to absorb 50 per cent of the apprentices as permanent employees.
Another amendment to the Act will enable to add 500 new skills and vocations in the industry, including those related to the IT sector. One of the amendments to the Factories Act states that now employees can avail leave with pay after completing 90 days in job. The earlier stipulation was 240 days.