In a bid to ramp up the factories cope with workers and high demand the central government is planning to change a law dated 1948 to allow these manufacturing units to operate for longer hours. As per the proposed changes, the companies will be allowed to extend their daily shift from an existing 8 hours, six days a week (or 48 hours) to up to 12 hours, six days a week (72 hours). As per a report by Hindustan Times, the government is seriously considering this idea to amend the Factories Act of 1948 and help the factories plug the huge demand amidst lockdown due to COVID-19.

Extension to be allowed for factories making essential goods

Notably, Section 51 of the Factories Act of 1948 highlights, "No adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in a factory for more than forty-eight hours in any week." Although the same act also provides for the provision of overtime which supports the factories for working long hours, the government argues that special circumstances call for special provisions.

India lockdown

The task has been assigned to one of the eleven empowered groups of senior bureaucrats that is "facilitating supply chain and logistics management for the availability of necessary items such as food and medicine" has suggested the amendments to allow up to 12-hours from 8-hour shifts.

Interestingly, the extension will be applicable only to the factories manufacturing essential goods. One of the executives that produce essential goods highlighted the acute shortage of workers. The real problem is the issuance of curfew passes by the local administration. Presently, the factories are operating under 50% percent of their total strength or lower.

HydroxychloroquineCredit: AP

Longer shifts would also mean that the workers would be proportionately more. The official privy to the development added, "It can ensure lesser physical movement of a large number of workers amid restrictions. But longer working hours would also mean restarting production lines to a higher capacity. Since workers will get paid extra money it will also solve their liquidity issues."