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Labour Laws: Working Hours in a Factory

Factory Working Hours Increased in Madhya Pradesh

The Factories Act, 1948 lays down all the provisions concerning the working hours in a factory which includes daily and weekly working hours, intervals for rest and extra wages for overtime. Madhya Pradesh Government in order to attract investments and also to boost productivity has made some amendments which would create a fine balance between productivity and Labour rights. So, in order to boost productivity, the Madhya Pradesh Government Exempted all the factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948 under Section 65 from the provisions of Section 51, Section 54, and Section 55 of the Factories Act, 1948 under the following conditions:
  1. Exemption in Section 51 and Section 54:

    That none of the workers shall be allowed or required to work for more than 12 hours in any day and in a total of 72 hours a week.
     
  2. Exemption in Section 55:

    Period of work for an adult worker should not be more than 6 hours but the interval of rest is at all times necessary.
     
  3. Application of Section 59 Accordingly:

    As to protect the rights of Labours overtime wages will be paid as per Section 59 of the Factories Act, 1948.
So, now the factories can have an increased working day of 12 hours rather than the normal 8 hours as according to the new amendments in the Labour policy, and the overtime is permitted of up to 72 hours rather than the normal 48 hours a week. And as per the last condition, the Adult workers will be paid extra wages for the extra 4 working hours as according to Section 59 of the Factories Act, 1948 which says that the workers will be entitled to the wages of their overtime at the rate of twice their ordinary rate of wages.

Significance of this Development

The main aim of this policy is to generate a lot of job opportunities for the youths and unemployed workers. The new labour policy as said by Madhya Pradesh, The government will attract a lot of new industries, encourage industrial activities by creating a positive atmosphere for investment since the additional working hours will help units run at a higher capacity and that will also help to re-rail all the industries that were hit by COVID-19 by restarting economic activities.

The main importance of this development is that the additional working hours will help in the restoration of all the essential goods while ensuring the minimal presence of the people in the manufacturing or in distribution and will allow running all the operations at 60-65% more than the normal manpower.

By the factories having more investment, the state will have more revenue collection because exempting factories and other industries units registered under the Factories Act, 1948 from adhering to multiple labour laws will help Madhya Pradesh Government attract more Businesses that will invest in the state after the proposal of this new policy.

Relief in COVID-19 Pandemic:

Labour Laws is also amended in the view to deal with the economic crisis since the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the economy of the state and the state keeping this in view is trying to make all the efforts to bring back the system on track while maintaining the Home Ministry's guidelines of social distancing by using fewer workers working for 12 hours a day and 72 hours a week.

Legal Basis of this Move

Section 64 and Section 65 of the Factories Act, 1948 gives special powers to the state government to enact rules and regulations as it deems fit owing to the nature of the work carried on or in any other circumstances. Section 65(2) allows the state government to exempt any or all of the provisions as mentioned under Section 51, 52, 54 and 56 of the Factories Act on the grounds that the exemption is required to enable the factories with the work under those circumstances.

Madhya Pradesh Government has exempted these provisions under Section 65 on the grounds that due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic and due to lockdown, industries have suffered a lot of economic crises, so by increasing working hours in the factories the government will be insuring to restore the availability of all the essential goods while keeping the minimal presence of people.

Another ground, as stated by the Madhya Pradesh Government, was to create more legal opportunities for the youths and unemployed workers since according to the government this will attract a lot of industries which will have a positive impact on the investment done in the state which further will lead to a lot of revenue for the Madhya Pradesh government.

Provision of Extra Wages:

As the Factory working hours have been increased to 12 hours from 8 hours. The government is doing everything to protect the rights of the Labours. According to the notification which was released by the Madhya Pradesh Government which says that the workers will be get paid for the overtime work of rest of the 4 hours as per Section 59 of the Factories Act, 1948 which says that if the workers work in a factory for a period more the prescribed time period of their working hours, they will be entitled to get wages at the rate of twice their ordinary rate of wages.

Law Regarding Working Hours

Section 51 and Section 54 of the Factories Act, 1948 prescribes the laws regarding working hours of adults in a factory which says that no worker can be allowed to work in a factory for more than 9 hours a day and 48 hours in any week.

Section 55 of the Factories Act, 1948 states the period of work of adults in a factory which is anyways should not exceed more than 5 hours and should have an interval for rest for at least 30 minutes.

Section 59 of the Factories Act, 1948 provides for extra wages to the workers in cases where the worker has worked for more than 9 hours in a day or for more than 48 hours a week.

But Section 64 and Section 65 gives special powers to the State Government to make laws regarding all the provisions related to working hours, weekly holidays, daily working hours, etc. provided that the state has provided a ground for amending the provisions as mentioned under the Factories Act, 1948.

Section 65 gives the power to the state government to exempt any provision under the Factories Act, 1948 if it deems fit that the exemption is required to enable the factories to work under that condition or situation as what happened in Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh government in order to overcome the economic crises of the Corona Virus Pandemic increased the working hours in the factories and industries so that all the essential requirements are met with the minimum amount of Labour.

Landmark Judgement

In the following case, of Workmen of the Motipur Sugar Factory Pvt. Ltd. Vs The Motipur Sugar Factory Pvt. Ltd., AIR 1965 SC 1803, where the workers of the factory urged the court to allow a rest period under Section 55 which was exempted by the Government of Bihar under Section 64 for the purpose of handling and crushing the cane. The workers were subject to the condition as per the state government's new rules that they were only allowed to take light refreshments or light meals at the place of their employment only.

Thus, as the rules were made under Section 64, it was held that the cane operations were exempted from Section 55 Subject to the condition mentioned by the Government of Bihar, so the claim of workers that they need to have a 30 minutes rest per shift was set aside as Section 64 and Section 65 is special provisions which give the state government powers to exempt certain provisions as it deems fit for the factories to deal with the exceptional press of work.

So, the Supreme Court, in this case, held that the workers are allowed to take a few minutes break in turn in each shift so that the work does not stop, since if the court allows any 30 minutes rest period the Avg. crushing speed will be reduced to 31,000 maunds per day.

Conclusion

Madhya Pradesh Government is considering to allow a longer shift in the factories as it works out in all the ways to help factories to cope with fewer workers and a lot of high demand which is an essential point during this lockdown as because of Corona Virus Pandemic, the factories including the state are suffering from an economic crisis. The government's decision in the extension of working hours is a really good initiative as it will provide a lot of employment opportunities and moreover will help us provide with all the essential commodities while assuring the usage of minimal labour.

Other than the Madhya Pradesh Government now different states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh have also extended their factory working hours as it will lead to the production and manufacturing of all the essential goods and services without violating the Home Ministry's guidelines for maintaining Social Distancing as only fewer workers will be working.

According to the guidelines as now is released by different states, all the state government has clearly mentioned that the factory should not lay off their workers and they must ensure that the workers are paid fully for their work even during the lockdown in order to protect the rights of the workers.

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