Proposed Amendments on Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act
The most recent bill advocating changes to the Shops and Establishments Act applicable in the state of Maharashtra is certain to bring about several benefits to workers and owners. The main intent of the proposal has been:
- Creating more opportunities and a more favourable environment for women
- Welfare measures for health and safety of workers
- Improving efficiency and productivity of establishments
- Bring about uniformity in conditions extended to those employed in shops and establishments
Salient Features of the Bill
- Application and registration: Establishments need to register online with uploaded, self-certified documents. This is to be done within 60 days of commencement of business. Closure of an establishment must be communicated within 30 days.
- Days and hours of work and rest: Operation of shops is hereby permitted 24hours/7 days a week. Adults can work for no longer than 9 hours a day/48 hours a week; and for not more than five hours unless given a half-hour break. Spread-over should not exceed 10 hours on any day, and 12 hours in the case of intermittent nature of work.
- Women employees: There shall be no discrimination against women in employment, transfer and payment of wages. They shall be made to work only between 7am and 9.30pm. Safety, dignity and honour will be protected at all times, and in the event of working between 9.30pm and 7am, transportation from workplace to home must be provided.
- Overtime: Anyone working beyond permissible limits is entitled to overtime at twice the rate of ordinary wages. Overtime shall not exceed 125 hours over a period of 3 months.
- Holiday and Leave: Every worker must be ensured at least one day’s rest (24 continuous hours) in a week. If denied a weekly holiday, a compensatory day off must be given. When working on a day of rest, worker is entitled to twice the rate of wages, and no deduction shall be made on account of weekly holiday. Every employee is entitled to eight day’s casual leave with wages during a calendar year, credited on a quarterly basis. Leave may be accumulated upto 45 days and carried forward. Leave applied for 15 days prior and not sanctioned, when over the 45 day limit may be encashed. Unavailed leave barring casual and festival leave must be paid in full by the employer. 8 paid holidays (against the earlier limit of 4) are mandatory. While 4 of these are fixed, the rest are to be agreed mutually by employer and workers.
- Health and welfare: Measures for health and safety including cleanliness, ventilation, sanitation, drinking water, first aid, toilet facilities, and canteens when employees are over 100 in number must be made. Where employees are over 50 in number, facilities for a creche must be in place on premises, or in a common establishment within a radius of 1 kilometre.
- Offenses: Contravention may attract a fine of upto one lakh, with an added fine of rupees two thousand a day for repeated contravention. Total fine shall not exceed two thousand per worker. Contravention resulting in bodily harm can attract imprisonment for six months and/or fine between 2 and 5 lakhs. Non-submission or furnishing of documents for inspection can attract fine upto 2 lakhs, with a penalty of 1 lakh for each offense if non-compliant.
Points to Ponder:
While all of the initiatives are certain to provide added benefits to workers, there are some aspects worthy of a thought:
- When calculating hours or days of work, are the calculations made based on a 365 day year, or based on a 240 day year?
- While the coverage of casual leave is laudable, should the angle of sick leave also have been touched upon?