Factories Act

The Factories Act, 1948

A Brief History

This was the time when the British were ruling India, the latter half of the nineteenth century heralded the growth of large-scale industry in the country and there was a need to regulate the working conditions in factories. This need was fulfilled by the provisions of a legislation to regulate the working conditions in factories through the first Factories Act that was enacted in 1881.

The Act regulates the working conditions of the workers, especially concerning the health, safety, working conditions, and hazardous processes in factories. Amendments to the Act followed in the years 1891, 1911, 1922, and 1934 during the British era and once India gained Independence in the year 1947, the Indian Government passed the Factories Act, 1948. This Act extends to the whole of India, and includes Jammu and Kashmir. The Act came into force on 1st April 1949 and amendments came out in the years 1976 and 1987.

Objectives of the Act

The main objective of the Factories Act, 1948 are to regulate the working conditions in factories and it lays down several provisions to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers, and makes provisions to handle hazardous processes in the workplace. The Factories Act, 1948 is more comprehensive than all the previously enacted Factories Acts, and lays down the conditions for the employment of young persons, women and children and also focuses on annual leave entitlements of the workers.

The health of the Workers

The health of the worker finds a prominent mention in the Act. The provisions of the Act require every factory coming under the purview of the Act to protect the health of the workers. The Act lays down that every factory shall keep the premises clean, with provisions for disposal of waste and effluents, proper ventilation and maintenance of temperature, and prevention of dust fumes. The premises should not be overcrowded and should have proper lighting.

There should be provisions for adequate drinking water along with provisions for clean and hygienic latrines and urinals. Sufficient spittoons have to be placed in convenient places and they have to be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition.

Safety

The safety of the workers is paramount in a workplace. The Act lays down provisions for the safety of the workers and they include proper fencing of the machinery. Only skilled workers should handle the dangerous mechanical devices, with assurance of proper maintenance. Young people should not operate such machines. For the worker to escape in the event of an emergency, proper manholes have to be provided.

Working Hours

The Act sets forth provisions to control the working hours of the workers. Adult workers are not allowed to work in a factory for more than 48 hours in any week. Provisions for weekly holidays, for compensatory holidays and proper intervals for rest are a must. The maximum number of hours that an adult worker is required to work is 9 hours in a day. Provisions regarding night shifts, overlapping of shifts, and extra wages for overtime are also provided through this Act.

Welfare Measures

Welfare measures include the facilities provided to workers inside or outside the factory premises. These include provisions for a well-maintained canteen, rest and recreation facilities, housing, and all other services that contribute to the welfare of the workers. Where there are many women workers, crèche facilities have to be provided to take care of their children, especially those below the age of 6 years.

Applicability of the Act

The Factories Act applies to any factory wherein 10 or more workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried out with the aid of power. The Act is also applicable to any factory where 20 or more employees are working or were working on any day of the preceding 12 months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried out without the aid of power.

A mine or a mobile unit belonging to the Armed forces of the country, a railway running room, or a hotel, restaurant, or eatery is not included in this. All the workers in different groups and relays in a day shall be taken into account when compiling the number of workers in the unit.

Important Definitions

1. The Occupier

The ‘Occupier’ of an organization denotes the person who has ultimate control over the affairs of the factory. Depending on the type of organization, different designations may be given to the occupier.
1.1  If it is a firm or other association of individuals any one of the individual partners or members thereof shall be deemed to be the occupier.
1.2  In the case of a company, any one of the Directors shall be deemed to be the occupier.
1.3  In the case of a factory owned or controlled by the Central Government or any State Government or any local authority, then the person or persons appointed to manage the affairs of the factory shall be deemed to be the occupier.

2. The Worker

The worker means a person who is employed directly or through any agency (including a contractor) with or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not in any manufacturing process, or in any other kind of work incidental to or connected with the manufacturing process, or in cleaning any part of the machinery or premises used for the manufacturing process, or in any other kind of work incidental to or connected with the process of manufacturing. Any member of the armed forces of the country is not included in this.

3. What is the Manufacturing Process?

Manufacturing Process concerns any process for making, altering, ornamenting, finishing, packing, oiling, washing, cleaning, breaking, or otherwise treating or adopting any article or substance with the view to its use, sale, transport, delivery of disposal or pumping oil, water, sewage or any other substance, or in generating, transforming of transmitting power or composing types for printing, printing for letterpress, lithography, photogravure or other similar process or book-binding or processing or storing any article in cold storage.

4. Annual Leave with wages

The Act has provisions regarding the entitlement of Annual Leave with wages to each worker. Every worker who has worked for a period of 240 days or more in a factory during the calendar year shall be entitled to leave with wages for several days in the subsequent year. An adult worker is entitled to one day’s leave for every twenty days worked during the previous calendar year. For a child worker, the entitlement is one day for every fifteen days worked during the previous calendar year.

5.  Provisions regarding Hazardous process

According to the Act, “hazardous process” refers to any process or activity concerning an industry specified in the ‘First Schedule’ where unless special care is taken, raw materials used therein or the intermediate or finished products, by-products, wastes, or effluent thereof that would cause impairment of the health of the persons engaged in or connected therewith or result in pollution of the general environment.

The Occupier or Manager of every factory involving a hazardous process shall disclose in the manner prescribed by the Act, all information regarding dangers, including health hazards and the measures taken to overcome and minimize such hazards arising from the exposure to or handling of the hazardous materials or substances in the manufacture, transportation, storage, and other processes, to the workers employed in the factory, to the local authority under whose jurisdiction the factory is situated, and the general public in the vicinity.

6.  Penalties under the Factories Act, 1948

Contravention of any of the provisions of the Act or any of the rules thereunder or any order given in writing thereunder will have serious consequences. The occupier and manager of the factory shall be held guilty of the offense and punishment include imprisonment for a term that may extend up to 2 years or with a fine that could extend to one lakh rupees or with both. In case the contravention continues after conviction, a further fine of one thousand rupees for each day on which the contravention is so continued is imposed.

In case the contravention of any provisions or any rules results in an accident causing death or serious bodily injury the fine shall not be less than twenty-five thousand rupees in case of death and five thousand rupees in case of an accident causing serious bodily injury.

Conclusion

The Factories Act, 1948 with its amendments in 1976 and 1987 has been in operation for well over 70 years and has provided tremendous service to the factory workers in the country. The Act has considerably improved the working conditions in factories and has effectively killed the exploitation of workers, and provided them with enough teeth to bargain with employers for better working conditions.

The workers are the backbone of the industrial sector and their safety and welfare are critical for industrial growth. Employers have to be fully aware of their legal obligations concerning the Factories Act and GetifyHR, with its years of experience in handling these issues is the ideal choice to assist factories in this vital task. Their cloud-based Payroll Outsourcing module is the perfect choice to not only handle payroll but also handle all Statutory Compliance issues. Complying with the Factories Act, 1948 and the later amendments is vital for all factories, and an associating with GetifyHR will help you to achieve this.

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