Facts and Laws – Rights, safeguards for working women

The Factories Act

  1. No woman employee can be forced to work after 7:00 pm. If at all they work overtime, only 2 hours over time is allowed. Cab must be provided for them with doorstep drop if they logoff after 7:00 pm; either a male associate or a security guard should be in the cab while dropping any female employee.
  2. Cab details must be sent to the employees prior to their pickup time.
  3. Company logo sticker must be there in the front mirror.
  4. Cab driver must wear his ID card given by the company/transportation provider
  5. Woman employee cannot be asked to work on a holiday as the only person in the ODC/floor. At least one person from the team should accompany her.

Maternity Benefits Amendment Act:

  1. Increased Paid Maternity Leave: The MB Amendment Act has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Under the MB Amendment Act, this benefit could be availed by women for a period extending up to 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and remaining 18 weeks can be availed post childbirth. For women who are expecting after having 2 children, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be 12 weeks (i.e., 6 weeks pre and 6 weeks post expected date of delivery).
  2. Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers: The MB Amendment Act extends certain benefits to adoptive mothers as well and provides that every woman who adopts a child shall be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave, from the date of adoption.
  3. Work from Home option: The MB Amendment Act has also introduced an enabling provision relating to “work from home” for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
  4. Crèche facility: The MB Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the day. Do we all really have this facility??
  5. Employee awareness: The MB Amendment Act makes it mandatory for employers to educate women about the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.

The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970:

Provision of crèches were made where twenty or more women are ordinarily employed as contract labor. Female contract labor is to be employed by any contractor between 6:00 am to 7:00 pm only with the exception of mid-wives and nurses in hospitals and dispensaries.

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:

  1. Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.
  2. The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
  3. The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
  4. The inquiry process under the Act should be confidential and the Act lays down a penalty of Rs 5000 on the person who has breached confidentiality.
  5. The Act requires employers to conduct education and sensitization programmes and develop policies against sexual harassment, among other obligations.
  6. Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to ₹ 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of license or registration to conduct business.[20]
  7. Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organization.
  8. The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, they are mandated to take action on the report within 60 days.
  9. While the “workplace” in the Vishaka Guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc. in the public and private sector, organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complex and any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation. Even non-traditional workplaces which involve tele-commuting will get covered under this law.

Online sources:

Work timings for female employees under Indian employment laws

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Harassment_of_Women_at_Workplace_(Prevention,_Prohibition_and_Redressal)_Act,_2013

– Poongodi

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