The Cabinet has cleared a new Model Law- Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2016 to allow malls, shops and other workplaces to function 24X7. It does not require parliamentary approval.
- It will now be sent to all the states, as it’s implementation depends on them. The model law serves only as an advisory to the state governments. The state governments can either adopt it as it is or with some modifications as per their requirements.
- It covers establishments employing more than 10 workers but not covered under the Factories Act except manufacturing units.
What are the benefits?
- It will enable women to work at nights with mandatory cab and other facilities for them. There will be no discrimination against women in the matter of recruitment, training, transfer or promotion.
- For the first time, godowns, warehouses or workplace related to packaging activities will be covered under this law. This will bring e-commerce companies under the labour laws as they face problems in operating their godowns.
- It is expected to add thousands of jobs to the country’s retail sector.
- It will give the customers the flexibility and convenience to shop any time of the day.
- The model law specifies labour issues like working hours, overtime, casual and earned leave and workplace facilities. Protections are to be enforced by a cadre of Chief Facilitators and Facilitators.
- The major innovation of the model law is a simplified, online common registration process for the businesses covered by the Act. This will help eliminate corruption in the form of the licensing bureaucracy in turn enhancing the Ease of Doing Business.
- It will lead to better utilization of resources and quick return on capital expenditure.
- It will boost consumer spending.
- It also allows highly skilled workers to work for more than 48 hours in a week.
- If malls and other establishments remain open 24X7, there will be more people around and hence a safer environment at night.
- It will give the retailers a level-playing field with e-commerce websites.
What are the lacunae?
- It requires a good, affordable public transport system with security arrangements to ensure a safe travel at night.
- Traders cannot afford to arrange different shifts. They will have to incur additional costs on maintenance of infrastructure, staff, sticking to labour laws etc.
- So only prominent commercial establishments will remain open during the night.
- It will impact the family and social life of the workers and the traders equally.
- Law and Order will have to be kept intact by increased patrolling and surveillance cameras will have to be installed.
- People will prefer a mall after midnight to a stroll around the street markets. So there is no scope for street markets for additional business at nights.
- With increasing crimes, including drunken driving peaking after sunset, the government needs to factor in genuine concerns about personal safety. When women safety is an issue even in broad daylight, how can the government ensure safety after sunset?