rights of factory & non-factory workers

In this blog post, Anubhav Pandey compares the rights of the factory workers & non-factory workers.

Difference In Rights of Factory Workers (industrial workers) vs Non-Factory Workers

There are two statutes which govern the rights of factory and non-factory workers such as working time, overtime, leave and holidays, health and safety and other related matters in India.

  • First is the Factories Act, 1948 and the other is Non-factory establishments as governed by various state laws, (Shops and Establishments Act of states).

Therefore, we have one central law which governs the rights of a factory worker and for the upliftment of rights of the non-factory worker, different states have different enactments.

Difference Between Factory and Non-Factory Worker

Factories Act applies only if 10 or 20 people are employed in a manufacturing process to aid the infrastructural growth of an industry. Whereas, the non-factory worker comes under the ambit of Shops and Establishment Act of different states. This applies to shops, a commercial establishment where trade, business or profession, etc. is carried or where goods are sold or establishments such as education, hotels etc. are run.

The benefits and rights provided by the two acts namely, Factories Act, 1948 and various state act on Shops and Establishments make provision for the basic rights and facilities to be provided to the workers.

Working Time for Factory Workers

  • According to the law, a daily cap of 9 hours per day and weekly cap of 48 hours per week is prescribed for factory worker. This implies the provision prescribed by the law is 6 working days in a week.

But in practical life, this provision is not followed. Workers in a factory are made to work for long hours which usually goes for about 12 to 15 hours a day and 7 days a week with no holiday.

In few areas, the condition is even miserable. Factory workers are made to work like bonded labor.

  • There cannot be a span of working hours for more than five hours at a stretch.

After every five hour period, each worker has to be given a break or rest interval for half an hour at least. This will not only benefit productivity but will also improve the working conditions of the worker.

Without break, the physical labor will result in affecting their personal health, which in turn will affect their family and a whole vicious circle will affect the society.

  • The periods of work will be arranged in such a way that inclusive of rest there shall not be a spread over work for more than ten and a half hours in any day. The chief inspectors of factories can, however, increase the spread over working hours up to 12 hours.
  • The employer is prohibited from carrying out work in any factory by means of a system of shifts so arranged that more than one relay of workers is engaged in work of the same kind at the same kind.

Special Provision for Working Time of Women and Children –

  • For women working timings (not hours) is further relaxed. Women can be made to work in a factory only between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The respective government can make further changes. But the only condition set is – the women cannot be made to do night shift in factories i.e. between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • No child who is legally fourteen and below is competent to work in a factory. A child who has completed 14 years of age can be allowed to work in a factory provided a certificate of fitness is presented by him granted with reference to him in the custody of the factory manager and such child or adolescent while working will carry such token giving reference to such certificate.
  • The working cap for children working in a factory is not more than four and a half hours in a day and strict provision is prescribed which prohibits the night shift for children. Further for a female child, working hour in any factory can only be in between 8 am and 7 pm.

Working Time for Non-Factory Shops and Establishments

An establishment which does not come under the provisions of Factories Act are governed by the Shops and Establishment Act of particular states in which the establishment is located.

The Shops and Establishment Act contain a provision for a working time, overtime, weekly off days, leaves, casual leave, sick leave, spread over, rest intervals and other such basic working rights. Some state act specifically provides that the provision for the Shops and Establishment Acts of their state, would not apply to persons employed in positions of management or in a confidential capacity, subject to a cap on the percentage of such employee, or to employees whose work is inherently intermittent.

While some state act only provides for particular provisions would not apply to such employees or persons whose main work involves traveling. The government of different states have also issued notifications exempting certain establishment or certain provision of the act.

For instance, the government of Delhi has adopted the following guidelines for Interval for rest and meal under their Shops and Establishment Act, 1954:

(1) The period of work of an adult employee in an establishment each day shall be so fixed that no period of continuous work shall exceed five hours and that no employee shall be required or allowed to work for more than five hours before he had an interval for rest and meals of at least half an hour.
(2) The time for such interval shall be fixed by the employer and intimated to the Chief Inspector a week before such fixation and shall remain operative for a period of not less than three months. [1]


Leaves and Holidays for Factory Workers

Every factory worker who has worked for minimum of 240 calendar days is entitled to annual leave with wages at the following rates:

  • For an adult, 1 day for every 20 days of work performed by him during previous calendar year.
  • For a child, one day for every 15 days of work performed by him during the previous calendar year.

The following will be considered as the days for which the worker has worked in the factory for the computation of the period of 240 days or more but the worker cannot earn leaves for these days:

  1. Any days of lay-off, by agreement or contract or as permissible under the standing orders.
  2. In cases of female workers, maternity leave for any number of days not exceeding 12 weeks.
  3. The leave earned in the year prior to that in which the leave is enjoyed.

Casual and Sick Leave

  • There is no provision as such for casual or sick leave in the Factories Act. There is even no provision for festive holidays and other such leaves. But keeping in mind the condition of workers and human rights to be enjoyed by them, different states have passed different amendments act to the Factory Act, thus, enabling the provision for holidays during the festive season and also sick and casual leaves.

The example in Delhi, Punjab Industrial Establishment (National and Festival Holidays and casual and Sick leave act) is applicable to workers working in factories.

According to the provision of this act, every worker working in a factory is entitled to casual leave for 7 days and sick leave for 14 days in a year.

  • Where a worker does not avail his rights to take leaves, such days will be carry forwarded to the next calendar year.

Therefore, all the leaves and holidays not availed by any worker in a calendar year will be carry forwarded on one condition. The number of such days shall not exceed 30 in the case of adults and 40 in the case of a child.

Duties of the Owner of the Factory Toward Factory Workers

These are the following duties towards factory workers to be taken care by the ultimate owner of the factory who has control over the affairs of the factory:

  • The provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work in the factory that they are safe and without risks to health.
  • The arrangements in the factory for ensuring safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.
  • The provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as are necessary to ensure the health and safety of all workers at work.[2]
  • The maintenance of all places of work in the factory in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of such means of access to, and egress from, such places as are safe and without such risks.
  • The provision, maintenance or monitoring of such working environment in the factory for the workers that is safe, without risks to health and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.

Health of Factory Workers

  • The Factory Act contains special provisions for cleanliness, disposal of wastes, adequate ventilation, proper exhaust system, thus, enabling workers by providing them the fresh environment and air to breathe. Adequate lighting facilities, drinking water, proper sanitation for male and female workers (separate).
  • The provision regarding safety includes fencing of machinery, providing safety equipment to workers working on machines, e.g. gloves, glass frames, etc.

In every factory where a thousand or more workers are ordinarily employed and where hazardous activities that might risk life is carried on, the occupier of the factory shall employ safety officer to look into these things and work for providing a safe and secure environment for workers to work.[3]

Certain Obligations Bestowed upon Workers

No worker in a factory shall –

  • Willfully interfere with or misuse any appliance, convenience or other thing provided in a factory for the purposes of securing the health, safety or welfare of the workers therein.
  • Willfully and without reasonable cause do anything likely to endanger himself or others.
  • Willfully neglect to make use of any appliance or other thing provided in the factory for the purposes of securing the health or safety of the workers therein.

Do you think the Rights & Obligations bestowed upon the factory workers are helping them to grow? Drop your comments below & share the article.


References –


[2]Bhasin, Alok, “Labour Laws-A primer” Eastern Book Company, 2011.

[3] Factory  Act, 1948



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