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Maharashtra govt tables bill to let shops and hotels stay open 24/7

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MUMBAI: Soon, you may be able to go shopping at midnight or watch a movie in a theatre at odd hours and have dinner at a restaurant after that if a bill tabled in the assembly by the government sees the light of day.

The bill proposes major reforms for shops and establishments by allowing them to set their own opening and closing hours and stay open seven days a week. If the bill goes through, they can operate 247, if timing restrictions have not been set by the state or municipality in public interest.

At present, shops have to shut by 10 pm, commercial establishments by 9.30pm and restaurants 12.30am.

The reform aims to ease business and allow shops and establishments to compete with online businesses. It follows the Centre’s Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016.

The bill applies to shops, residential hotels, restaurants, theatres and places of public amusement to which provisions of the Factories Act do not apply . It applies to establishments, which includes businesses involved in banking, stocks, medical practice, architects, engineers, accountants, tax consultants and professional consultants.There are 38.5 lakh establishments in the state.

The Maharashtra Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2017 also allows women to work night shift from 9.30pm to 7am with their consent and with the establishment providing safety measures.

Workers will not work more than nine hours a day or 48 hours a week, the bill suggests.Overtime will be twice the wage rate. In establishments that work all seven days, workers will get a weekly holiday , the bill suggests. Workers are also entitled to paid leave, maternity leave and welfare provisions including a creche and canteen. Employers who violate the law can be fined up to Rs 1 lakh. An employer whose violation leads to the accident or death of a worker can face 6 months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh, the bill says.

Establishments with fewer than 10 workers are not required to register with the government. They merely need to intimate a state-appointed facilitator with self certified documents. To close down, they need to inform the facilitator in 30 days. Such establishments will not be inspected to see if they are violating the law. Officials say this will free kirana and paan shops as well as small shopkeepers from red tape and harassment.

The government says the reform will create jobs. “It will cut red tape and boost employment. Small shopkeepers were needlessly subjected to inspections. Now inspectors will be able to focus on large establishments,” said an official.The state has 62,577 establishments with over 10 workers and 13 lakh establishments with less than 10 workers.

Labour unions say the reform will make workers more vulnerable, especially those in small establishments. Retailers, however, have welcomed it.”We have been asking for liberal working hours for a long time. Malls especially should have the option of staying open at night. This reform will also free small shopkeepers from corruption and harassment faced at the hands of inspectors,” says Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.

Source: Times of India

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