The labour ministry seems set to bring the Factories’ Act, 1948 in line with the 21st century realities and is likely to do away with provisions requiring spittoons and drying lines in factories across the country.
The move is a part of an ongoing review of the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 by the labour ministry after the Standing Committee on labour had recommended a re-examination of the proposed legislation.
“These are outdated provisions that certainly need a re-look. What is important is having standards of service to ensure that proper and hygienic facilities are maintained for workers rather than to mandate the number of spittoons and toilets required in a factory,” said a senior labour ministry official.
While the labour ministry had last year revisited the Independence era Factories Act, the amendments sought to ease regulations on hours of work and overtime to workers and also proposed doubling the threshold of workers for definition of a factory while continuing with requirements of spittoon and washing and drying lines for workers.
The amendments had proposed to continue facilities such as spittoons, drying lines, washing facilities and sitting facilities in factories for workers though their violation is sought to be a compoundable offence, saving the owner from a jail sentence.
The official pointed out that such provisions add to the compliance burden of factory owners but stressed that factories must provide requisite facilities to workers.
However, sources said that the government is unlikely to dilute the proposal to enhance the threshold level of employment from 10 to 20 workers (in case of factories using power) and from 20 to 40 workers (in case of factories not using power),would exempt nearly 70 per cent of such units from major labour laws.
This was one of the key issues on which the Standing Committee on labour had sought a review of the Bill.
“The Committee, therefore, do not accept the proposed amendment and they desire that status-quo be maintained, mindful of the serious apprehensions raised at many quarters including the trade unions over the proposed amendment to increase the threshold limit,” the panel had said in its report submitted in December last year, adding that provisions such as “hazardous process” must be included. It had also asked the labour ministry to call for a tripartite meeting on the Bill.