Introduction

The Government of Maharashtra (Government) vide notification dated 23 March 2018 has notified the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2018 (Rules) under the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2017 (2017 Act). The Rules, repeal the earlier Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Rules, 1961 (1961 Rules).

The Government vide notification dated 2 February 2018 had notified the draft Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2018 (Draft Rules) formulated under the 2017 Act for public comments. Now it appears that the Government has quickly acted upon the public comments that may have been received on the Draft Rules and has thereafter implemented the Rules.

Our earlier newsflash on the key aspects of the Draft Rules can be accessed here.

Key incremental amendments made to the Draft Rules as per the notified Rules:

  • Fees: The fees for the application for registration, renewal of certificate of registration, changes in the certificate of registration, etc. which were proposed in the Draft Rules, have been waived. However, the employer may be required to pay the electronic transaction or service charges as may be fixed by the Government from time to time for availing e-services under the 2017 Act and the Rules.
  • Complaint box and display of numbers: This is a new requirement under the Rules. Every employer is under an obligation to maintain a complaint box and display the phone numbers of local police station, control room and women help line number prominently in the establishment. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.
  • Security guard: Engagement of sufficient number of woman security guards has been made mandatory in establishments employing not less than 10 (ten) women workers. The mandatory police verification of such women security guards has also been prescribed. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.
  • Additional paid holiday: The provision under the Draft Rules related to additional paid holiday for women workers working during night shifts has been modified. Now, every women worker who works during the night as per her shift schedule is entitled to 1 (one) additional paid holiday for every 2 (two) months in a year.
  • Submission of undertaking related to safety of women: Every employer has been obligated to submit an undertaking on an annual basis that he shall provide all the facilities as mentioned under Rule 13 of the Rules (Conditions for employment of women in general as well as in night shifts) and shall take due care and diligence regarding the safety, dignity and honour of women workers in general and particularly of those working during the night shift. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.
  • Part-time employment: It has been prescribed that the wages payable to a part time worker shall be computed by dividing the per day rate of ‘minimum wages’ applicable to that schedule employment by 8 (eight) hours with 15% (fifteen percent) rise in it or by dividing the prevailing rate of per day wages fixed for permanent workers doing similar nature of work in that establishment by 8 (eight) hours with 15% (fifteen percent) rise in it, whichever is higher. It has also now been prescribed that no part time worker shall be allowed to work overtime under any circumstances. These conditions appear to be aimed to prevent misuse of the engagement of part time workers.
  • Health, Safety and Welfare Committee: As per the provisions the provisions related to Health, Safety and Welfare Committee under the Rules, it has been prescribed that the said committee shall consist of equal number of employer and worker’s representatives. Also, the said committee is required to have sufficient number of representatives of women, wherever women workers are employed. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.
  • Precautions against fire: Every employer has been obligated to adopt and implement all the safety measures mentioned, suggested and recommended in the Fire and Safety Policy as declared by the Government, from time to time. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.
  • Preservation of records: As per the Rules, every employer or manager shall preserve the inspection records of the Facilitator for a period of 3 (three) years, instead of the 5 (five) years requirement under the Draft Rules.
  • Annual Return: As per the Rules, every employer shall upload the annual return online in Form ‘R’ on the website within 2 (two) months for the year ending on 31 December. Under the Draft Rules, the annual return was required to be submitted within 2 (two) months after the closing of the financial year ending on 31 March. Clarity would be required concerning particulars of the website for annual return filing and other prescribed forms.
  • Fee for compounding of offence: The maximum fees for compounding of an offence may be imposed by the compounding officer shall not be less than 50% (fifty percent) of the maximum fine specified for such offence under the 2017 Act. As per the Draft Rules, the maximum fees for compounding of offence was not less than 75% (seventy five percent).
  • Information regarding persons discharging managerial function: The information to the facilitator in Form ‘T’ related to the names, designation and brief nature of duties of persons who are discharging managerial function, is required to be submitted annually and whenever there is any change, during the year. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.
  • Information regarding persons doing confidential work: The information in Form ‘U’ related to the names of persons who are occupying position of confidential character in an establishment, is required to be submitted annually and whenever there is any change, during the year. This provision was missing in the Draft Rules.

Comment

The Government has acted swiftly by implementing the Rules soon after releasing the Draft Rules for stakeholders’ comments. Read with the 2017 Act, the Rules are aimed to facilitate ease of doing business, ease of compliance and represent major reforms towards workplace safety issues and welfare provisions especially for women workers. Needless to mention that the overall implementation of legislative intent of the 2017 Act and the Rules would largely depend on a proactive state machinery in cooperation with the establishments which must also take steps to make themselves aware of the new statutory framework.