The Goa Legislative Assembly passed the Factories (Goa Amendment) Bill (the "Goa Factories Bill") on 1 August 2019, which now awaits the assent of the Goa Governor. This bulletin considers two key amendments included in the proposed Goa Factories Bill: the provisions permitting female employees to work during night hours, and increasing the maximum work and overtime hours for male employees.
Female employees permitted to work during night hours
Female employees permitted to work during night hours Under the Factories Act, female employees in factories are only allowed to work between 6.00 am and 7.00 pm. State governments may extend such working hours by way of notification, but no female employee may be required to work between the hours of 10.00 pm and 5.00 am.
The Goa Factories Bill abolishes this restriction in Goa. Under the amendments, the government of Goa may by way of notification allow factories to require female employees to work between the hours of 7.00 pm and 6.00 am, and specify the safety conditions for work in any factory or manufacturing process between such hours. Extension of permitted work and overtime hours.
Extension of permitted work and overtime hours
Section 65 of the Factories Act imposes (amongst other restrictions) the following restrictions on work and overtime hours:
(a) the total number of hours of work in a week, including overtime, shall not exceed 60; and
(b) the total number of hours of overtime shall not exceed 75 for any one quarter.
The Goa Factories Bill extends the total permissible hours of work in a week, including overtime, from 60 to 72. The maximum number of overtime hours worked in a quarter is also extended from 75 to 125. The Chief Inspector may, by written order, require employees in any factory to work such hours on the ground that there is an "exceptional pressure of work". However, only male employees may be subject to such additional work and overtime hours.
The Bill has not yet been signed into law by the Governor of Goa. Some members of the Legislative Assembly continue to oppose the Bill, and have written to the Governor requesting that the Governor withhold his assent. This division, particularly in relation to night work for female employees, illustrates the gender debate that is ongoing across India. For companies keen to address diversity in the workplace, the proposed amendments move, albeit slowly, towards redressing the current imbalance.