A Step Forward Towards a More Favourable Shops & Establishment Act
NASSCOM has been representing to the Government on the need for a comprehensive labour code, which can address the needs of the IT-BPM sector. Against this backdrop, NASSCOM welcomes the announcement of the Cabinet considering the Model Shops and Establishments Act, and referring it to the States / UT for voluntary adoption.
As per a PIB press release, the Cabinet has approved a model Shops and Establishment Bill. This, if adopted by States, will bring in uniformity in the legislative provisions and working conditions across the country, and facilitate the ease of doing business. Also, it is in line with the announcement made by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in his Budget speech 2016.
The IT BPM industry is outcome based and employs skilled manpower. The number of hours spent in office should not be an important parameter, and to that effect, the clause, attributable to weekly hours logged in, has been exempt.
Given the nature of operations in terms of global spread across multiple time zones, the bill provides for freedom to operate 365 days in a year, and opening/closing time of establishment. This may not grant exemption from election holidays and other exigencies though.
The IT BPM industry is one of the most gender diverse, and women constitute a significant part of the workforce. The new bill proposes that women be permitted during night shifts. This is being permitted for IT companies even now, subject to the conditions specified related to safety and transport provisions. Most State IT policies have enabled this, though specific approvals are needed. The policy when implemented by the state could grant blanket approval for the highly skilled workers. Much needed!
In light of these developments, it is really positive that the government is considering these changes to the Shops and Establishment Act, and introducing a model law for the consideration of the State Government.