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A new bill will force Indian employers to ensure women's safety after 7 pm

IANS | Jun 21, 2019, 04.57PM IST

'Dignity and security' of a woman worker is paramount says the new labour Bill, likely to be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament.

As per the new Bill, working hours for women are to be between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. However, beyond these timings, the employer would have to ensure 'safety' of a woman worker.

Besides, on a holiday, a woman worker cannot be called for work. In case, there is an urgency for her to be called to work, her safety would have to be ensured by the employer.

Another important feature of the Bill is the definition of family (of a worker under the law), which now includes dependent grandparents. In other words, benefits granted to parents would now be availed by dependent grandparents too.

Sources said that the Bill, Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions 2019, cleared by the Cabinet is being vetted by the Law Ministry and would soon be introduced in Parliament.

Last week, a Group of Ministers(GoM) chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah suggested certain points in the Bill, including "taking the consent of the worker with respect to overtime hours."

For the benefit of both the worker and the employer, overtime hours enhanced to 100 hours would be further enhanced to 125 hours per month. Similarly, welfare provisions like creche for children, canteen for quality food, first aid facilities in case of any mishap and provision of a welfare officer in an establishment have also been given importance.

These welfare steps would have to be ensured by "all establishments as far as practically feasible." Like the wage bill, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill subsumes relevant provisions of at least 13 existing Central Labour Laws.

"We have tried to make laws easier and better for the worker. We have also tried to ensure a balance between rights of the workers and the employers. The government has given top priority to the safety of women. For working journalists, including those working in the electronic media, better wages and working conditions have been assured," said a top official of the Labour and Employment Ministry.

Sources said on the instructions of the leadership, several other benefits would be granted to workers. For instance, employers would provide free of cost annual health checks-up for employees above prescribed age. Employers would also be expected to provide an appointment letter to every employee.

The radical changes for the benefits of the worker have been included in the Bill after extensive consultations with all stake holders, including the central trade unions, employers associations and state governments.

The Prime Minister's Office had a series of meetings over the Bill. Earlier last year, the draft of the bill was uploaded on the website of the Labour and Employment Ministry to include suggestions of the stake holders as well as general public.
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