India has ever since been a hub of trade and industry involved in providing goods of good quality and repute. The business in India is widespread over various segments of the society. Organization set-up at different levels enable the business persons to carry out their commercial operations. Primary level of business units prevalent in major parts of the country are in the form of shops and establishments.
Regulation of Shops and Establishments
The provisions Shop and Establishment Act monitor terms of service and other work conditions of people employed in shop and commercial establishments. The Shop and Establishment Acts are specific to the legislature of respective States regulated by the Department of Labour controlling the premises wherein any trade, business or profession is carried out.
These laws help in the efficient and proper management of employment in a particular organization based on the principles of fair play. For commencement of the business of any nature, an entity is required to obtain trade license in accordance to the applicable State Shops and Establishment legislation.
Kerala Shops and Establishments Act
In Kerala Shops and Establishments Act, 1960 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) has been enforced to consolidate the regulations of conditions of work and employment in the shops and commercial establishments in the State of Kerala.
The Act provides for registration of establishments, duties of employer, payment of wages, hours of work, leaves, holidays, overtime, intervals for rest, prohibited employment as in case of children, cleanliness, ventilation and lighting and penal consequences in the event of failure of compliance.
The Government of Kerala vide notification dated October 4, 2018 promulgated an ordinance - Kerala Shops and Establishments (Amendment) Ordinance (hereinafter referred to as the “Ordinance”) with a view to further modify the prevalent Act. The said Ordinance introduces several changes some of which are listed below:
- Section 2 (6) of the Act- “Employee” means a person wholly or principally employed in, and in connection with, any establishment and includes an apprentices or class of persons as may be declared by the Government.
- Section 11 of the Act- Substitution of the said provision allows for grant of weekly holidays-
- Every person employed in a shop or a commercial establishment shall be allowed in each week a holiday of one whole day provided that nothing in this sub-section shall apply to any person whose total period of employment in the week including any days spend on authorized leave, is less than six days.
- No deduction shall be made from the wages of any employee in an establishment on account of any day on which a holiday has been allowed in accordance with this section and if such person is employed on the basis that he would not ordinarily receive wages for such day, he shall nonetheless be paid for such day the wages he would have drawn had the holiday not been allowed on that day.
- Section 20 of the Act- No woman or any person who has not attained the age of seventeen shall be required or allowed to work whether as an employee or otherwise in any establishment before 6 A. M. or after 9 P. M. However, an employer may employee women employees between 9 P.M. and 6 A.M., after obtaining the consent of such women employees ensuring that no female employee is employed between those hours other than in groups consisting of atleast five employees having a minimum of two female employees and adequate protection of their dignity, honour and safety, protection from sexual harassment and facility for transportation from the shop or establishment to the doorstep of their residence.
- Section 21 B of the Act- Newly introduced provision for seating facilitates stating that in every shop and establishment, suitable arrangements for sitting shall be provided for all workers so as to avoid ‘on the toes’ situation throughout the duty time, so that they take advantage of any opportunity to sit which may occur in the course of their work.
- Section 29 of the Act- Modifications have been made to the penal provisions increasing the fine amount.
- Section 30 of the Act- The registers, records and display of notices shall be maintained in electronic as well as physical form.
The newly promulgated ordinance accords equality of working opportunities to the women in State of Kerala while ensuring their safety and protection. Also, the said Ordinance aims at comforting the workers employed by allowing suitable sitting arrangements for them. In order to ascertain due compliance to the provisions of the Act, stricter penalties have been imposed.