Job deluge on way; malls, shops set to stay open 24/7

By: | Updated: June 29, 2016 8:03 AM

Malls, restaurants, hotels, shops and other commercial establishments (except ‘factories’) employing 10 or more people could operate round-the-clock through the year, once the Model Shops and Establishment Bill, 2016, likely to be approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, becomes law.

Currently, states have their own legislation which regulates the opening and closing time of shops and establishments and prescribes the holidays for workers and working shifts for women.(Reuters)Currently, states have their own legislation which regulates the opening and closing time of shops and establishments and prescribes the holidays for workers and working shifts for women. (Reuters)

Malls, restaurants, hotels, shops and other commercial establishments (except ‘factories’) employing 10 or more people could operate round-the-clock through the year, once the Model Shops and Establishment Bill, 2016, likely to be approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, becomes law.

Currently, only larger manufacturing units and service-sector firms have the freedom to operate 24X7; in case of other units, while some states have specified thresholds for this leeway, no benchmark has been defined by others. What the Centre now proposes is a model for states to follow, though its norms can’t be mandatory in states in this regard.

Sources said the Bill also prescribes allowing women to work in night shifts in such units with adequate provisions for safety. “There should not be any gender discrimination in the matter of recruitment, training, transfer or promotions,” a senior labour ministry official said. The Bill also seeks graded punishment based on seriousness of offence for the employers.

The labour ministry expects the proposed law to provide a fillip to the country’s retail sector by ensuring a level playing field between online and offline retailers. Consumers are likely to be benefited too.

The move, first mooted by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the previous Budget, is also aimed at job creation. As reported by FE earlier, on the lines of the package offered to the textile and apparel sectors recently, retail is one of the areas of focus for the Centre for creating millions of jobs. Retail is the third-largest employer in the country after agriculture and textiles.

Though job creation has been one of the priority areas for the BJP-led NDA government, many analysts feel that its performance so far on this front has been less than satisfactory. Employment generation in eight select sectors had fallen to its six-year low in 2015.

Currently, states have their own legislation which regulates the opening and closing time of shops and establishments and prescribes the holidays for workers and working shifts for women. The official said the idea is to ensure that legislative provisions and working conditions in the shops and establishments, not falling under the Factories Act, remain uniform for all states.

Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice-president, Teamlease Services, said, “It will be a great move as it strives to strike the right balance between ensuring ease of doing business, providing equal opportunities for women and ensuring safety and welfare for all workers.”

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