The model law would allow malls, multiplexes, restaurants, shops, banks and other such institutions to be open 24X7 for 365 days
The cabinet on June 29 cleared the Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016. The bill will now be sent to states/UTs and they can either adopt the bill as it is or modify their individual acts.
The model law would allow malls, multiplexes, restaurants, shops, banks and other such institutions to be open 24X7 for 365 days. It also enables women to work during the night in shops and establishments if they are provided with mandatory cab services and other workplace facilities.
The law certainly gives a boost to the retail sector and has been welcomed by the various traders and business associations. Customers too can now go for shopping anytime and go for that midnight binge. But is it really a feasible option?
Here are some of the features of the new ‘model’ law:
It will cover only establishments employing 10 or more workers except manufacturing units.
Small traders and market associations feel that the bill will only profit big establishments like malls and supermarkets. The business of the unorganised sector or markets near residential areas will be affected as they would not be in a position to bear the cost of additional infrastructure and staff to open their stores 24X7. Big retail outlets like Big Bazaar and More can afford to function through day and night.
The Bill provides for freedom to operate 365 days in a year and opening/closing time of establishment.
Trade unions across the country are already struggling with the issue of minimum wages, working hours, and weekly off. The law could help big establishments in further exploiting their workers.
Moreover, will it be feasible for markets like Janpath and Sarojini Nagar to be open throughout the night? Will they receive enough foot fall during wee hours?
Though restaurateurs are upbeat about the 24X7 idea and it would also satisfy the midnight cravings of many, but one has to take in account the instances of drunk driving and road rage.
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.
The country already does not have a good reputation regarding women safety. Can the new law, despite having mandatory clauses of “transportation”, ensure women safety during night? Remember the alleged rape of a woman, working in a Gurgaon pub, returning from her workplace late at night a few years back!
Moreover, the shortage of security personnel will do more harm to the issue of women safety. Also the task of security personnel doesn’t end at protecting women only. Extra vigil is also needed at malls and markets which will be open during the night.
No discrimination against women in the matter of recruitment, training, transfer or promotions.
The female labour force participation (FLFP) rate in India fell 10 percent in the last decade, as per a study by the industry body Assocham. The study further states that though there was an increase in the number of working women in India during 2000-2005, increasing from 34 percent to 37 percent, the female labour force participation rate has reduced continuously thereafter and reached 27 percent in 2014. Therefore, the bill with its 24X7 clause might increase the gender divide instead of bridging it.
Lavatory, creche, first aid and canteen by group of establishments, in case, it is not possible due to constraint in space or otherwise by individual establishment.
A crèche for a working mother is extremely important. But if that woman is working during night time, will that crèche remain open 24 hours?