The Factories Act,1948 has been enacted on 23.09.1948. This Act is legislated to lay guidelines on working conditions in factories including leaves, working hours, holidays, etc. It also ensures health, safety and welfare measures of workers in factories. This Act made mandatory medical examination for children under the age of 15 while admitting to work as well periodically. Certificates of fitness also made necessary for young workers working in harbors, constructions, etc.
This Act has been amended in the year 1987. There are Provisions from Section 11 to 20 of the Act deals with regard to health measures including cleanliness, Ventilation, Lightning, Drinking water, latrines & Urinal, etc, and Provisions from Section 21 to 41 of the Act deals with Safety measure includes fencing, lifting, casing of machinery, Employment of young workers with dangerous machines, etc,. The welfare measures includes washing facilities, facilities for sitting, first aid facilities etc, were discussed under Sections 42 to 50 of this Act.
This Act also focused on hazardous process by Industries and the level of chemical substances permissible in work environment under Section 41a to 41h of the Act. Workers in Railways, mines, etc, were not protected under this Act, as they are separately covered under other Acts. Provisions regarding hazardous process constitution of Site Appraisal Committee, Compulsory disclosure of Information, Appointing competent person in handling hazardous substances, etc,
As far as the working hours of adult workers is concern, Provisions under Section 51 to 66 of the Act discussed clearly. As far as these provisions are concerned they deal with weekly works and holidays, night shifts, overtime wages, etc. Here An adult worker should not work more than 48 hours in a week and should get one full day holiday in a week. If he was asked to work on his holiday, he must be compensated with a holiday in one working day within in three days from his working on holidays. A women worker should not be allowed to work beyond 10pm and before 6am.
Provisions between Sections 67 to 77 of the Act deal with Employment of young workers. They deals with Certificate of fitness, working hours of Children, Power to require medical examinations, etc. Here, no children under the age of fourteen should be allowed to work in any factory. He must not be allowed to work more than four to five workers nor during night. Children without name and particulars in any factories are not been allowed to work further. If the Inspector under investigation found any child without Certificate of fitness is also not made fit to work further.
This Act contains provisions regarding Annual leaves with wages under Sections 78 to 84. Workers who work for more than 240 days during the calendar years will be granted with leaves with wages for number of days calculated at the prescribed rate. These provision deals with wages during leave period, mode of recovery of unpaid wages, Application of Chapter, etc. If any workers dismissed, dies, etc, during the course of employment, his o her heirs will get wages in lieu of quantum leave. The un-availed leave of an employee is not considered during computation of notice period during discharge or dismissal.
Beyond several provisions for the welfare of the workers, there are several special Provisions which really give special protection with some strict measures for the purpose of the Act. These measures were discussed between Sections 85 to 91 of the Act. As every Act contains Penal provisions, this Act also consist of several penal provisions between Section 92 to 106 of the Act. Court will take cognizance only when the complaint is made in three months within the reach of Inspector. In case of disobeying the written order the complaint would be appreciated within 6 months. There were several other penal provisions for the offences by several authorities and experts.
This Act is being legislated for regulating the workers and factories in order to maintain safe and healthy environmental surroundings all around the factories. It not only protects workers in common but also gives special care to women and child workers through several welfare and safety measures in their work atmosphere. National Commission for women also suggested several amendments to this Act. Union cabinet also approved to amend Section 66 of this Act, which provide leniency in matter of women working at night. In the year 2004 our government also showed its intention to amend this archaic Act. As said, The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 were also made to promote gender equality at work and to care women, children under age 18 and disable person. Legislature really performing their duties as and when it is necessary through amendments but still there remains some lacuna.