Women working night shifts: What does the law say about ensuring their safety?

In several industries, women are now legally allowed to work in night shifts, and employers are responsible for their safety. Here's what the law says about this

This article is part of a special series: Safety of women in Indian cities

The gruesome rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad recently shocked our country. But after the dust settles, the question that would be asked of a dead woman is “What was she doing out so late in the night?” As working professionals and contributing members of society, women shouldn’t have to answer this question at all.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. Hence the law needed to step in to protect women who work at night. In 2002, state government amended the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961, to allow night shifts for women working in the IT/ITeS industry. Last November, state government issued a notification allowing women working in factories that are registered under the Factories Act, 1948, to take up night shifts as well.

However, companies are also legally bound to provide safe transport to women in night shifts, without exception. They also have to follow other rules on preventing sexual harassment and so on. Despite this, there have been cases where companies shirked off their responsibility. If your employer does not follow these rules, you have the right to take up the matter with them.

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