The Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 (“Factories Bill”) in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Parliament of India, which is also referred as the ‘House of the People’) on 7 August 2014. The Factories Bill proposes to amend the archaic Indian Factories Act, 1948 (“Factories Act”).

Proposed amendments to the factories act

Factories Act was enacted in the year 1948. It’s main object is to ensure adequate safety measures and to promote the health and welfare of the workers employed in factories in India. Factories Act has been earlier amended in the years 1949, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1970, 1976 and 1987. Since the last amendment was made, there have been several advances such as changes in the manufacturing practices, emergence of new technologies, ratification of International Labour Organization Conventions, various judicial decisions, recommendations of the committees and decisions taken in the conferences of Chief Inspectors of Factories.

In view of the above advances and suggestions from various Ministries of the Central Government, employers and trade union representatives, it has been proposed to make the following amendments to the Factories Act:

  • to amend the concerned provisions in order to extend the provisions relating to drinking water to all factories irrespective of number of workers; and prohibiting pregnant woman or a person with disability to work on or near machinery in motion;
  • to substitute provisions relating to prohibition of employment of woman and children near cotton openers; protection of eyes; precautions against dangerous fumes, gases, etc.; and various other restrictions on employment of women;
  • to amend the provisions relating to explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc.; compulsory disclosure of information by the occupier; canteens (in order to provide canteen facilities in respect of factories employing 200 or more workers instead of the present stipulation of 250 workers); and shelters, rest rooms and lunch rooms (in order to provide shelters or rest rooms and lunch rooms in respect of factories employing 75 or more workers instead of the present stipulation of 150 workers); and
  • to insert the Fourth Schedule providing the list of compoundable offences.

Status of the factories bill

The Factories Bill is currently pending in the Lok Sabha. Once passed by the Lok Sabha, the same would be tabled in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Parliament of India) for its approval, and upon the approval of the Rajya Sabha, the same would become a law upon the assent of the President of India.