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The law relating to the regulation of labour employed in factories in India was embodied in The Factories Act, 1934. It was amended several times but its general framework remained unchanged. Application of this Act revealed a number of defects and weaknesses which hampered effective administration. In the meanwhile industrial activities in the country grew to a very large extent and it became essential to overhaul the Factories law. To achieve this objective the Factories Bill was introduced in the Legislature.


he existing law relating to the regulation of labour employed in factories in India is embodied in the Factories Act, 1934 . Experience of the working of the Act has revealed a number of defects and weaknesses which hamper effective administration. Although the act has been amended in certain respects in a piecemeal fashion whenever some particular aspect of labour safety or welfare assumed urgent importance, the general framework has remained unchanged. The provisions for the safety, health and welfare of workers are generally found to be inadequate and unsatisfactory and even such protection as is provided does not extent to the large mass of workers employed in work places not covered by the Act. In view of tile large and growing industrial activities in the country, a radical overhauling of the Factories law is essentially called for and cannot be delayed.

The proposed legislation differs materially from the existing law in several respects. Some of the important features are herein mentioned. Under the definition of "Factory" in the Act of 1934, several undertakings are excluded from its scope but it is essential that important basic provisions relating to health, working hours, holidays lighting and ventilation, should be extended to all workplaces in view of the unsatisfactory state of affairs now prevailing in unregulated factories. Further, the present distinction between seasonal and perennial factories which has little justification has been done away with. The minimum age of employment for children has been raised from 12 to 13 and their working hours reduced from 5 to 4 ½ with powers to Provincial Governments to prescribe even a higher minimum age for employment in hazardous undertakings.

The present Act is very general in character and leaves too much to the rule-making powers of the Provincial Governments. While some of them do have rules of varying stringency, the position on the whole is not quite satisfactory. This defect is sought to be remedied by laying down clearly in the Bill itself the minimum requirements regarding health (cleanliness, ventilation and temperature, dangerous dusts and fumes, lighting and control of glare, etc.) safety (eye protection, control of explosive and inflammable dusts, etc.), and general welfare of workers (washing facilities, first-aid, canteens, shelter rooms, creches, etc.) amplified where necessary, by rules and regulations to be prescribed by Provincial Governments.

Further, the present Act leaves important and complex points to the discretion of Inspectors placing heavy responsibility on them. In view of the specialized, and hazardous nature of the processes employed in the factories it is too much to expect Inspectors to possess an expert knowledge of all these matters. The detailed provisions contained in the Bill will go a long way in lightening their burden.

Some difficulties experienced in the administration of the Act, especially relating to hours of employment, holidays with pay, etc. have been met by making the provisions more definite and clearer. The penalty clauses have also been simplified. An important provision has also been made in the Bill empowering Provincial Governments to require the every factory should be registered and should take a licence for working to be renewed at periodical intervals. Provincial Governments are further being empowered to require that before a new factory is constructed or any extensions are made to an existing one, the plans designs and specifications of the proposed construction should receive their prior approval.

It is expected that the Bill, when enacted into law, will considerably advance the condition of workers in factories.

The substantial changes made in the existing law are also indicated in the Notes on Clauses [omitted]. Opportunity has also been taken to arrange the existing law and to revise expressions, where necessary.

ACT 63 OF 1948

The Factories Bill having been passed by the Legislature received the assent on 23rd September 1948. It came into force on 1st April 1949 as THE FACTORIES ACT, 1948 (63 of 1948).

1. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1949 (40 of 1949).
2. The Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950.
3. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1950 (35 of 1950).
4. The Part B States (Laws) Act, 1951 (3 of 1951).
5. The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1954 (25 of 1954).
6. The Central Labour Laws (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Act, 1970 (51 of 1970).
7. The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1976 (94 of 1976).
8. The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1987 (20 of 1987).