The Factories Act, 1948
The Factories Act, 1948, aims to consolidate and amend the law regulating labour in factories in India.
The Act contains provisions on the health,
safety, working hours, leave and welfare of workers; inspecting staff for
factories; hazardous processes in factories; the employment of young persons
(children and adolescents); and penalties for contravening the provisions of
The Act applies to the whole of India.
Who is a ‘worker’ and what is a ‘factory’ according to this Act?
A ‘worker’ is any person employed – directly or through an agency, including a contractor – in any manufacturing process, in cleaning any part of the machinery or premises used for a manufacturing process, or any other work related to such a process. The worker may be employed with or without the knowledge of the ‘principal employer’, and with or without remuneration.
A ‘factory’ refers to any premises in which a manufacturing process is being carried out, or is ordinarily carried on, with the aid of power, and where 10 or more workers are working, or were working, on any day of the preceding 12 months. It also means any premises in which a manufacturing process is being carried out, or is ordinarily carried on, without the aid of power, where 20 or more workers are working, or were working, on any day of the preceding 12 months.
What does the Act say about the health and safety of workers within a factory?
Every factory shall be kept clean. Accumulated dirt shall be cleared daily; floors of every workroom shall be cleaned every week; factories shall have effective means of drainage; all doors, window frames and other wooden or metallic frames shall be painted or varnished once in five years; all walls shall be painted or varnished every 14 months; adequate ventilation, temperatures and humidity shall be maintained in every workroom; effective measures shall be taken to prevent workers from inhaling injurious dust and fumes; and no room in any factory shall be overcrowded to an extent that is injurious to workers’ health
All factories shall have arrangements and a sufficient supply of drinking water, as well as sufficient and conveniently suited latrines and urinals.
The Act contains provisions for fencing parts of machinery which may be dangerous for workers, and for working near machinery in motion. It states that no young person shall be allowed to, or required to, work at any dangerous machine unless they have received sufficient training to do so, and are adequately supervised by a person who has knowledge and experience of the machine.
What are the working hours for adults as stipulated in the Act?
The Act stipulates that no adult worker shall be required to, or allowed to, work in a factory for more than 48 hours in a week. No adult worker shall be required to, or allowed to, work in a factory for more than nine hours a day; they shall not work for more than five hours before they have had an interval for rest of at least half an hour. The periods of work of an adult worker in a factory shall be arranged such that they are not spread over more than 10.5 hours on any day, including intervals for rest.
Those working for more than nine hours on any day, or more than 48 hours in any week, shall be entitled to twice their ordinary rate of wages for working overtime.
What does the Act say about the employment of young children?
No child below the age of 14 shall be required to, or allowed to, work in any factory. The Act defines a child as a person who is below 15 years of age. A child who is 14 years or older shall not work in a factory unless they submit a ‘certificate of fitness’ – granted by a ‘certifying surgeon’ – to the manager of the factory, and unless such a child or adolescent carries a token referring to such a certificate while at work.
No child (14 years or older) shall be employed to work for more than 4.5 hours on any day. No child shall be required or allowed to work in any factory on any day on which they have already been working in another factory. No female child shall be required to, or allowed to, work in any factory except between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The manager of every factory in which children are employed shall maintain a register of all child workers.
What are the restrictions imposed by the Act on employing women in factories?
No woman shall be required to, or allowed to, work in a factory except between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Every factory where more than 30 women workers are employed shall provide and maintain a crèche facility for children under six years; these rooms shall be adequately clean, lit and ventilated.
What does the Act say about public emergencies?
A ‘public emergency’ is defined as grave emergency whereby the security of India or any part of its territory is threatened – by war, external aggression or internal disturbance.
During a public emergency, the state government may exempt any factory or class of factories from all or any of the provisions of this Act for such period and subject to such conditions as it may think fit. No such notification by the state government shall be made for a period exceeding three months at a time.
What are the penalties under this Act?
If the manager of the factory contravenes any provisions of this Act, they shall be punishable with imprisonment for up to two years, a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh, or both. If they contravene the provision a second time, they shall be punishable with imprisonment for up to three years, a fine of up to Rs. 2 lakhs, or both.
If contravening the Act’s provisions has resulted in an accident causing the death of a worker, the manager shall be liable to pay a fine of Rs. 25,000, minimum; if the accident results in a serious bodily injury, the fine shall be a minimum of Rs. 5,000. If this occurs a second time, the fine shall not be less than Rs. 35,000 or Rs. 10,000, respectively.
Whoever wilfully obstructs an inspector in conducting their duty as per this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or with a fine of up to Rs. 10,000, or both.
If a worker employed in a factory contravenes any provision of this Act, they shall be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs. 500.
Focus and Factoids by Abhaya Ganashree.
Ministry of Law and Justice
Government of India, New Delhi
23 Sep, 1948