The Gujarat Assembly Friday cleared a Bill that allows shops and food joints in urban areas to operate 24 hours and also those situated on national highways, inside bus stations and hospital premises.
According to a PTI report: The Gujarat Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill of 2019 was passed with a majority vote in the Assembly.
The Bill was opposed by the Congress, but it was eventually approved given the BJP’s comfortable majority in the House.
The move will increase business and create more employment opportunities, the government told the Assembly.
As per the Bill’s provisions, shops and food joints situated in the limits of a municipal corporation (city) can remain open 24 hours on all days of a week.
Outlets situated on national highways as well as inside hospitals and bus stations are also entitled to keep their premises open without any time restriction.
As per the Bill, shops and food joints located in the limits of a municipality (small towns) as well as on state highways, can remain open from 6 am till 2:00 am.
The time limit specified in the Bill for rural areas is 6 am to 11 pm.
Tabling the Bill, Labour and Employment Minister Dilip Thakor said the Bill also empowers the government to change time restrictions, if needed, in the future.
“Provisions of this Bill will increase business and create more employment opportunities. We have also taken care of employees.
“As per the Bill, employees must be given one weekly off. In addition, the employees will get two times their salary if they work overtime.
“At present, they are getting 1.5 times the salary as overtime pay,” Thakor told the House.
For the safety of women employees, the Bill states that women can not be given nigh shifts.
However, they can be employed for night hours with their consent and proper measures in place, such as transportation facility during night.
As per the Bill, large shops or malls employing more than 30 women will have to set up a daycare centre for babies on their premises.
Further, it is mentioned in the Bill that large retail units employing more than 100 persons will have to provide canteen facility on their premises.
Unconvinced by Thakor’s claims, Congress MLAs raised objections to the Bill, claiming lifting time restrictions will lead to more crimes.
“If you allow shops to operate during night too, it will lead to more crimes. I don’t know if you have consulted the state Home department before tabling this Bill,” said Lalit Kagathara (Congress).
Another Congress MLA Anil Joshiara asked Thakor to withdraw the Bill, saying it will only help big retail companies.
“You brought this Bill to help multinational retail giants wanting to operate round-the-clock. When people are not safe during the day, how can they be safe during night? I want you to withdraw this Bill,” Joshiara was quoted by PTI as saying.
However, the BJP government remained firm and passed the legislation.
Along with this Bill, the Assembly passed three other amendment Bills unanimously as Congress members gave their consent.
These are the Gujarat Housing Board (Amendment) Bill, the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling (Amendment) Bill and the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Bill.
These three Bills proposed minor changes in the respective existing laws.