The Ministry of Labour and Employment today introduced Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in Lok Sabha.
The amendment of the Factories Act aims to ensure improvement and safety and health of workers working in factories.
The bill will provide permission for employment of women for night work in a factory or group or class or description of factories with adequate safeguards for safety and provision of transportation upto their residence. It will enhance the limit of overtime hours from the present limit of 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours per quarter.
The amendments will make provision of personal protective equipment for workers exposed to various hazards and regarding entry into confined spaces and precautions against dangerous fumes, gases etc. and will empower the Central Government also to make rules under the Act on some important provisions.
Other main features of the proposed Amendments are as follows:-
i. Reduction in the eligibility criteria for entitlement of annual leave with wages from 240 days to 90 days.
ii. Provision of canteen facilities for factories employing 200 or more workers instead of the present stipulation of 250 workers and also provision of shelters or restrooms and lunchrooms for factories employing 75 or more workers instead of the present stipulation of 150 workers.
iii. Amendment of Section 66 of the Act relating to permission for employment of women for night work at a factory or group or class or description of factories with adequate safeguards for safety and provision of transportation upto their residence.
iv. Prohibition of employment of pregnant women and persons with disabilities on or near machinery in motion and near cotton openers.
v. The amendment also proposes to further increase the limit of overtime hours to a maximum of 125 hours per quarter in public interest with the approval of the State Government.
vi. The provision of self-certification has been introduced for the purpose of expansion of the factory through amendment in Section 6.
vii. Provision of empowering the State Government to increase the period of spread-over from 10 and half hours to 12 hours through notification in the Official Gazette.
viii. Introduction of new terms like "hazardous substance" and "disability" to existing definitions.
ix. Currently, only State Governments are empowered to make rules under the Factories Act. It is now proposed to empower the Central Government also to make rules under the Act on some important provisions.
The Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948) was enacted in 1948. It is a comprehensive central legislation on safety, health and welfare of labour as well as regulation of conditions of work in factories. The State Governments are vested with executive powers under the Act.
The amendments are based on the recommendations by an Expert Committee headed by Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Member, Planning Commission in December, 2010. The Committee held extensive discussions with all stakeholders and submitted its report in June, 2011. Most of these recommendations made by the Committee have been incorporated in the proposed bill now.