Cabinet considers Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has considered the Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016. The Bill will now be sent to States/UTs to enable them to modify their respective Shops and Establishments Acts, if they so desire either by adopting the said Bill as it is or after modifying its provisions as per their requirements. This Bill was finalised after detailed deliberations and discussions with public through internet and with employees/labour representatives, employers’ associations/federations and State Governments through tripartite consultative process. The Model Bill would bring about uniformity in the legislative provisions, making it easier for all the States to adopt it and thereby ensuring uniform working conditions across the country and facilitate the ease of doing business and generate employment opportunities.
The main features of the draft model Bill are as follows:

1. It will cover only establishments employing ten or more workers except manufacturing units.
2. The Bill provides freedom to operate 365 days with flexibility on timing to open and close. Sec 10(ii) provides that an establishment may work on all days of the week.
3. Women to be permitted during night shift, if the provision of shelter, rest room ladies toilet, adequate protection of their dignity and transportation etc. exists.
4. Online one common registration through a simplified procedure.
5. The Act, once legislated will cover only establishments employing ten or more workers except manufacturing units.
6. Godowns, warehouses, or workplace related to packaging activities are proposed to be covered under the law, as per the draft model Act. Not applicable on government offices and the Reserve Bank of India
7. Working Hours: The employees will work for 9 hours a day and any time spent above these limits will be treated as over time. A maximum of 125 hours per quarter is allowed as over time. A mandatory 30 minutes break is to be provided. No employee is to work for 5 hours at a stretch without such break.
8. Women: The Model Act provides that women can work only from 6 am to 9 pm. Women can be employed on night shifts subject to the conditions that the establishment has the provisions of shelter, rest room ladies toilet, adequate protection of their dignity and transportation etc. available. Facilities such as cab services, night crèches and ladies toilet should be compulsorily provided by employers in case women are working during the night shift.
9. Holidays: Every employee is entitled to 8 days of casual leave in a calendar year. A worker will get 12 days mandatory causal cum sick leaves throughout the year. Apart from this, every worker who has put in 240 days in a year is entitled to one day of leave for every 20 days of work the subsequent year.
10. Penalty for non-compliance: Most of the offences other than safety hazards are compoundable and a fair opportunity will be provided to employers for compliance of irregularities.

The proposal has been cleared by the Cabinet and noted by the Labour Ministry. The Centre has been receiving suggestions from time to time to enact the model law, which the States and UTs could consider for enforcement either by adopting the central law or necessary modification by the state law. Government has the power to make rules regarding adequate measures to be taken by the employer for the safety and health of workers. Even though this piece of legislation may be welcome by the IT industry, we will have to wait and watch how the states decide to implement the same.

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