Employers Propose Amendment of Factories Act
Factories Act, 1948 was lastly amended in 1976 and thereafter no amendment has been made despite repeated efforts by different governments. There has been persistent demand by the employers for amendment. Recently, Council of Indian Employers (CIE) has proposed following amongst other amendments.
Indian employers have sought online approvals, licensing and registration of factories to avoid any interface with inspection staff.
They also want the functional head of a factory to be accepted as its ‘Occupier’ under the Factories Act, instead of the Director of the Board at present. The ‘Occupier’ should be nominated by a resolution of the Board of Directors of a company.
These are some of the suggestions made by the CIE in its comments to the Labour Ministry’s proposal to amend the Factories Act, 1948.
“In India, approvals, licensing and registration of factories are cumbersome. Also, inspecting staff have excessive powers. We have, therefore, suggested that these functions be strictly performed online”, Mr. Ravi Wig, Chairman, CIE, and former president, PHD Chamber of Commerce, told.
The CIE has also sought an amendment to the Act to raise the work week to 60 hours (from 48 hours), as also overtime, especially in export-oriented units.
“India is, perhaps, the only country where overtime allowed is extremely limited… Further, the concept of overtime is limited in application only for maintenance and repair purposes and not for production and productivity purposes”, said the note.
Such a move will increase national productivity, the country’s global competitiveness as well as the earnings of factory labour, it said. The Economic Survey 2008-09 had also recommended an increase in the number of overtime work hours, the note said, backing up its suggestion. Employers also want worker absenteeism to be viewed very seriously. It suggested that “seven days’ unauthorised absence must culminate in automatic termination of services of a worker”. “Today, the law is weak and the employer is unable to ensure uninterrupted production in the factory”, the note says.
Keeping in mind the Labour Ministry’s focus on safeguards against rising industrial accidents, the CIE has suggested “joint liability” with equipment makers.
It said the Labour Ministry’s proposals were “more stringent than required” and aimed at “prosecution” rather than compliance.