Restrictive labor laws for women in India

I’m in the midst of writing up some more accessible summaries of the research I and a team of economists have just finished on female labor force participation in Asia. It’s a different kind of writing than I have done for awhile, which is super fun, but nonetheless reminds me that at least 90% of all good writing is research.

I spent the better of part of half an hour searching for information on laws restricting women’s work in India, and eventually found this website dedicated to laws pertaining to women, which I highly recommend. Most importantly, I found these gems from the 1948 (1948!!) Factories Act:

No woman or young person shall be allowed to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of a prime mover or of any transmission machinery while the prime mover or transmission machinery is in motion, or to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of any machine if the cleaning, lubrication or adjustment thereof would expose the woman or young person to risk of injury from any moving part either of that machine or of any adjacent machinery.]

And (amended in 1976 to reflect the shorter restriction):

b) no woman shall be 2*[required or allowed to work in any factory] except between the hours of 6 A.M. and 7 P.M.

Provided that the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, in respect of 2*[any factory or group or class or description of factories,] vary the limits laid down in clause (b), but so that no such variation shall authorize the employment of any woman between the hours of 10 P.M. and 5 A.M.;


Prohibition of employment of women and children near cotton-openers. No woman or child shall be employed in any part of a factory for pressing cotton in which a cotton-opener is at work:

It’s only those three things, really, but they’re pretty big. Here’s a few dangerous (read: probably more lucrative) jobs you can’t do, and you can’t work the second shift. I imagine the night shift provision ostensibly had to do with safety, but is it really safer to leave work at 9:30 or 10 at night than to work through night?

Can anyone confirm that these provisions are still in force? I know there have been proposed changes to the Act to allow women to work in the more dangerous jobs, but I’m not sure about the shifts provision or whether the changes passed.


Author: ekfletch

I am an independent researcher on issues of gender, labor, violence, education, and children.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: