Kshithija Prakashan and Pragya Singh

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Jul 01, 2022
4 min read

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The buzz around the new Labour Codes has grown louder as the nation awaits their implementation. Among other things, the working hours are set to undergo significant changes. Let us take a closer look at how the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (“OSH Code”) changes the current provisions on working hours under the Factories Act, 1948.

 

What are the new daily and weekly working hours?

The maximum daily working hours have reduced from 9 hours to 8 hours although the maximum daily hours inclusive of rest intervals (i.e. spread over) have increased from 10.5 hours to 12 hours. The decrease in daily working limit and the increase in total spread over will allow for longer rest intervals for workers, potentially leading to greater productivity levels. The maximum weekly working hours, however, remain unchanged at 48 hours. 

 

How has the rest interval and leave policy changed?

The provisions for rest intervals have not been amended under the OSH Code. The worker is entitled to a 30-minute rest interval every 5 hours. 

 

The leave conditions, however, have been rationalised. Under the Factories Act, 1948, a holiday must be given on Sunday unless a compensatory holiday (with prior permission of authorities) is given either 3 days before or after such Sunday. The compensatory holiday should be planned such that the worker does not work for more than 10 consecutive days. The OSH Code, on the other hand, mandates that a worker shall be entitled to at least one leave per week, removing the complex provisions on compensatory holidays and providing greater flexibility in granting leaves.

 

Have the provisions on night shift undergone any change?

The conditions governing night shift (i.e. shift extending beyond midnight) remain unchanged under the Code. All night shift workers are entitled to a weekly holiday of at least 24 consecutive hours starting from when the night shift ends. 

 

What are the new conditions for overtime wages?

Under the Factories Act, a person working more than the daily limit of 9 hours or weekly limit of 48 hours is entitled to wages that are twice the ordinary rate of wages. The OSH Code has retained this overtime wage rate in respect of any work extending beyond the limit of 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week. 

 

However, there are some additional provisions on overtime work to ensure workers’ welfare. First, the period of overtime is to be calculated on a daily or weekly basis, whichever is more favourable to the worker. Second, a worker cannot be required to work overtime without consent. Third, for calculating overtime, a fraction of an hour between 15 to 30 minutes will be counted as 30 minutes and for any fraction more than 30 minutes, it will be counted as an hour. 

 

Are there any restrictions on double employment?

The Factories Act prohibits workers from working in a factory on any day on which he/she has already been working in another factory. The restriction on double employment under the OSH Code is slightly different. The bar on double employment comes into effect only if the worker has already been working in a similar establishment within the preceding 12 hours. This will allow greater flexibility for workers engaging in more than one employment.




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