Labour Laws for Night Shift

Impact of night shift working on family and social life

  • Difficulty in managing the work life balance since the entire family would be following a day time cycle in doing their works
  • Higher levels of job strain leading to ill health affecting the family
  • Greater physical demands which can be cope up by having better food, supplementary diets which affects the family economically
  • More relationship problems due to the lack of quality time devoted to the spouse and family
  • Higher personal stress levels than day workers since need to manage the day to day works also in the family affecting the psychological level of family members
  • Night Shift workers have greater sleep loss, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, poor diet, alcohol abuse which ultimately affects the family
  • Increased stress levels and a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and gastrointestinal disorders leading to increase of medical bills which hits the family economically
  • Social isolation since the night shift employees remain socially disengaged due the inability to meet the friends and social circle during the day timings.
  • Unable to meet family expectations due to the juggling of everyday needs, unable to take care of children, family, parents as desired.

 

Labour legislation pertaining to employees working on night shifts

Night shifts generally refer to working hours between 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. In India, legislations like the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, Factories Act, 1948, State Shops and Establishments Act, etc. contained provisions restricting work during night for women.

Prohibition of Night Work

  • Section 66(1)(b) of the Factories Act, 1948 states that no woman shall be required or allowed to work in any factory except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

(After much debate, the ban has been lifted in majority of industries. For instance, the Factories Act, 1948, which initially banned women from working in night shifts, now liberalized women to work at their desired timing. It was argued that provisions for safety of women should be implemented such as provision of transportation till the doorstep of their residence rather than their ban at work during those hours.) Today, in four districts, there are about 40,000 women employees doing three shifts, including night shifts.

  • Section 25 of the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 stipulates that no woman shall be required or allowed to work in any industrial premise except between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Section 46(1)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 prohibits employment of women in any mine above ground except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • According to shops and establishment act no women shall be required or allowed to work in any establishment after 9:30 PM

In ITes and IT industry provision of women employees working after 8PM is allowed provided transportation till door step and other security measures for women employees are adhered.

Measures to protect women working in night shifts

The following measures should be taken at the workplace with the intervention of human resources department:

  • Special arrangements should be made for protection of female employees working before 6AM and 8:30PM including transportation
  • Female employees should be provided job jointly or in a group
  • Every vehicle transporting women employees to be issued special pass
  • Every company should provide a security guard with the vehicle for women employee
  • Security guard or a colleague to accompany the driver in the cab, if a woman staff working in a night shift is either the first to be picked or last to be dropped
  • GPS based monitoring of cabs with panic buttons
  • SMS alerts or information systems  to be installed
  • Employers should collect the identification documents from drivers, security guards and casual staff
  • 24X7 operational CCTV at vital locations or places such as entry/exit, common passages etc.
  • Installation of electronic doors allowing access to work area only to authorized employees
  • High security fencing to discourage human trespassing in factory/office premises/campuses
  • Separate and secure toilets for women close to their work station
  • Compliance and audits, random checks to be done periodically including breathe analysis of cab drivers
  • Training of women staff on staying alert and better prepared
  • Self defense classes to be organized at the workplace or sponsored by the organization
  • Setting up of a sexual harassment committee reporting to the managing director or a senior member of the management and headed by a woman
  • Clearly displayed emergency contact numbers and a designated officer(s) available round the clock to be contacted in emergency

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