In a bid to woo new manufacturing businesses to the state of Karnataka, including the likes of Foxconn (which is Apple’s supplier), the state legislature passed the Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2023 to amend the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 (as applicable to the state of Karnataka) to deal with the employment of women workers in night shifts, extension of working hours and clarifications on overtime pay.
Women workers will now be permitted to work in night shifts between 7:00 PM and 6:00 AM, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, including: (i) obtaining their prior written consent to work in night shifts; (ii) making available transportation facilities for them; and (iii) ensuring that they are employed in batches consisting of at least 10 women workers. Although this relaxation was already in place under a notification issued in 2019, this has now been crystallized into statute.
Additionally, the state government can, by notification, extend the daily maximum work hours (i.e., hours of work including rest periods) of an adult worker up to 12 hours a day (inclusive of the rest period) from the existing limit of 10.5 hours a day (inclusive of the rest period). Currently, adult workers can only work up to 9 hours a day (out of the 10.5 hours). However, the weekly maximum work hours should not exceed 48 hours, which is the current position. This will enable workers to opt for either a 4-day or 5-day work week. In addition, the state government can notify that, the number of hours after which mandatory rest must be provided be increased to 6 hours. Currently, this limit is at 5 hours. It remains to be seen which categories of workers and factories will be permitted these relaxations by the state government.
Lastly, in furtherance of the introduction of flexible working hours, the calculation of overtime payments has now been categorised basis the number of working days of a particular worker. Accordingly, overtime payments will have to be made to: (i) workers working for more than 9 hours a day and 48 hours a week; (ii) workers working 6 days a week; (iii) workers working 5 days a week only if they work for more than 10 hours a day and 48 hours a week; and (iv) workers working 4 days a week only if they work for more than 11.5 hours a day. The limit of permissible overtime hours in a quarter has also been increased from 75 hours to 145 hours.