Study on Working Hours, Leave and Holidays Benefit in Bangladesh
Labour laws play very crucial role in the industrial relation system. The British law of master and servant is the foundation of labour law. Actually enactment of labour law was the demand of time for the regulation of the labour business in the country. The labour law system is more than a century old in Bangladesh. The first labour law was enacted in the Indian sub-continent during the British period, in 1881. Subsequently, the British Government introduced several laws concerning different labour issues, e.g., working hour, employment of children, maternity benefit, trade union activities, wage, etc. After the separation of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, almost all the laws during the pre-partition period were kept in force with some modifications and amendments, in the form of administrative rules, by the Pakistan Government. After the independence in 1971, the Bangladesh government retained the previous laws through the Bangladesh Laws Order (President’s Order No. 48). It also enacted additional laws in response to the changing circumstances and needs of the working class and the country. In 2006, the country adopted the revised Bangladesh Labour Law of 2006.
The Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 is fairly comprehensive and progressive. The law is a consolidation and updating of the 25 separate acts. The comprehensive nature of the law can immediately be gleaned from its coverage – conditions of service and employment, youth employment, maternity benefit, health hygiene, safety, welfare, working hours and leave, wages and payment, workers’ compensation for injury, trade unions and industrial relations, disputes, labour court, workers’ participation in companies profits, regulation of employment and safety of dock workers, provident funds, apprenticeship, penalty and procedure, administration, inspection, etc. These are the most comprehensive legal structures for labour welfare and protection in the world. This paper traces the regulation of labour law relating to working hours and leaves with holidays and maternity benefit finding out the national standards corresponding with the international standards and some other contrasting views.
- Working Hours:-
Most labour law regimes mandate statutory limits on working hours. Initially, the imposition of hours limits was intended to ensure a safe and healthy working environment and adequate rest or leisure time between shifts. Over the last century, however, hours limits increasingly came to be seen as a way of advancing the additional policy goals of allowing workers to balance their paid work with their family responsibilities and other aspects of their lives, promoting productivity and reducing unemployment. In our country, the Labour Act, 2006 enumerates daily and weekly basis of working hours with the hours for overtime and their payment. In this paper it is earnestly tried to focus on the working hours so stated in the Labour Act, 2006 with the international standard along with the working hours in different countries.
1.1 Daily limit:
(i) International standards:
Daily working hour limits are a feature of Conventions Nos. 1 and 30, both of which provide for an 8-hour limit on normal hours. Convention No. 47 and Recommendation No. 116 do not provide for daily limits, the 40-hour week being considered an adequate guarantee of a working day of 8 hours or less. Under the international standards, daily hours can be averaged within the 48-hour week, allowing the 8-hour limit to be extended to 9 hours in industry (Convention No. 1)19 and 10 hours in commerce (Convention No. 30).
(ii) National standards:
The Labour Act, 2006: as per section 100, 8-hour day is the daily work limit but it may not exceed 10-hour day subject to the satisfaction of section 108.
The 8-hour day
The two-third majority of the world’s countries provide for a limit of 8 hours in a day. The exceptions are that have a 9-hour limit (Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and mainland United Republic of Tanzania); Chile, which has a limit of 10 hours; and the three countries in which different limits apply to 5-day and 6-day workweeks, Indonesia (8 hours and 7 hours), Namibia (9 hours and 7½ hours) and South Africa (9 hours and 8 hours).
1.2 Weekly limit:
(i) International standards
The initial working hours standards adopted by the International Labour Organization, the Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 1), and the Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1930 (No. 30), mandate a maximum on normal (pre-overtime) hours of 48-hour week. The more recent approach at the international level, reflected in the Forty-Hour Week Convention, 1935 (No. 47), and the Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation, 1962 (No. 116), is the promotion of a 40-hour week as a standard to be realized, progressively if necessary, by ILO member States.
(ii) National standards
The Labour Act, 2006: as per section 102, 48-hour week is the limit for the adult worker but subject to the satisfaction of section 108, it shall not exceed 60-hour week in case of the inclusion of overtime.
The dominance of the 40-hour week
The 40-hour week is now the most prevalent weekly hours standard. Almost half of the 103 countries reviewed for this report have adopted a normal limit of 40 hours or less. Among the others, there is an almost even split between limits of 42 to 45 hours and the 48-hour week, while only two have weekly limits of more than 48 hours. There are, however, substantial regional differences in the legislated weekly hour limits. The majority of industrialized countries impose a limit of 40 hours. These include half of the EU-15, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and the United States. Two countries have a lower threshold: Belgium (38 hours) and France (35 hours). In central and eastern Europe, the 40-hour limit has a similarly strong hold: it is a feature of the law in all 10 of the countries covered by this report. African labour laws also favor the 40-hour week. Almost half of these countries have a limit of 40 hours or less. One third has a limit in the 42 to 45 range, and only three permit a normal working week of more than 45 hours: Mozambique and Tunisia (48 hours) and Kenya (52 hours). In Latin America, the 48-hour standard is more dominant than in other regions. More than half of these countries have enacted a 48-hour limit. The next most prevalent limit is of 44 to 45 hours, with only Ecuador having a 40-hour week. In Asia, the 48-hour limit is also dominant, although not to the same extent as in Latin America. Six of the 11 Asian countries that have enacted a general hour limit have selected this standard. The others legislate a 40-hour week, with the exception of Singapore, which has adopted a 44-hour limit.
1.3 Maximum hour limit:
Labour law regimes limit total daily and weekly hours, including overtime, with the aim of averting the harmful consequences to health, safety and family life of working very long hours. These maximums represent the ultimate legislated limit on working time. Their significance is dependent on the regime in which they are located. In a number of western European countries, collective agreements tend to prevent working hours from approaching the level of the legislated maximums. In other countries, however, maximum limits function as the final regulatory barrier against excessive working hours.
(i) International standards
The international standards view normal hour limits as the primary restriction on working hours and overtime hours as exceptional. For this reason, maximum limits are not a central feature of the international regulatory regime. The standards do not specify a daily rest period or a maximum on total daily or weekly hours. However, although the international instruments do not mandate specific limits on overtime hours, they require that a limit be in place at national level.
(ii) National standards
The Labour Act, 2006 states in section 102 that the weekly limit of the working hours shall not exceed 60-hour and on the average 56-week per year but for the road transport worker is shall not exceed 150-hour per year.
Statutory limits on overtime work serve the same policy objectives as those on normal hours: preserving health and safety and ensuring workers have adequate time for their lives outside of paid employment. The regulation of overtime work, however, takes a number of different forms in addition to direct limits. Some laws limit the circumstances in which overtime can be resorted to by mandating criteria for when it can be performed or the procedures that should be followed before it is introduced. In some countries, overtime is prohibited for certain groups of workers, who are seen as at particular risk from working beyond normal hours. When overtime is permitted, most laws limit the number of hours that can be worked and provide for compensation in the form of either enhanced wages or an equivalent rest period.
(i) International standards
The Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 1), Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1930 (No. 30), and Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation, 1962 (No. 116), address overtime work as an exception to the normal hours limits. They specify certain circumstances in which it can be permitted, classified as either permanent or temporary exceptions. The former include preparatory or complementary work, ‘intermittent’ work, such as caretaking, and work in the public interest. The temporary exceptions are tailored more towards allowing firms to respond to urgent circumstances, for example to deal with exceptional workloads, accidents or force majeure; to perform urgent work on machinery or plant; and to make up for time lost during stoppages caused by incidents such as accidents, interruptions to the power supply, bad weather or a shortage of materials. The Conventions on hours of work require signatory states to issue regulations specifying the circumstances under which overtime can be performed, after consultation with employers’ and workers’ organizations. These regulations are required to set a limit on overtime hours. These regulations are required to set a limit on overtime hours. Although these limits are not specified in the Conventions, the ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has stated that they must be reasonable and in line with the Goals of the standards.
(ii) National standards
The Labour Act, 2006: as per section 108, beyond the daily working hours limit, 8-hour day, is the overtime and section 102 stipulates that the adult workers may work up to 60-hour week exceeding 48-hour week normal working hour for the overtime. It was held in the case of General Manager, Jumana Oil Company Ltd. Vs. Labour Court Chittagong (1991) 51 DLR (AD) 91 that any time stipulated for the work is the normal time of working hour but any other time of work beyond the settled and stipulated working hours will be overtime and the allowance of which will be governed by the prescribed manner of the statute.
1.4.1 Prohibitions and limitations on overtime work
(i) International standards
The international standards do not prohibit or limit the participation of designated groups of workers in overtime work. The Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation, 1962 (No.116), however, calls for consideration to be taken when arranging overtime work to the special circumstances of young workers, Pregnant and nursing women and handicapped workers.
(ii) National standards
The Labour Act, 2006 does not incorporate any such prohibition regarding the prohibition and the limitation as to overtime work rather limits the overtime work hour.
1.4.2 Overtime compensation
(i) International standards
The international standards require that overtime work be remunerated at a premium rate of not less than 25 per cent above the ordinary wage.
(ii) National standards
The Labour Act, 2006 according to section 108 it is stated that in respect of overtime work a worker is entitled to get allowance at rate of twice his ordinary rate of basic wage and dearness allowance and ad hoc or interim pay.
1.5 Rest and Break
In addition to limiting the number of permissible daily and weekly working hours, labour laws can also provide for rest breaks during the working day, to allow workers to rest and take meals. Daily rest periods can also be required, which function in the same way as hours limits, to limit the working day and provide for adequate rest between shifts. Finally, labour laws usually provide for a weekly rest day, both to ensure a substantial rest period during the working week, and also to allow workers to spend time with family, friends, in religious observance and with the community as a whole.
(i) International standards
The international standards do not provide for rest breaks during the working day and mandate hours limits rather than daily rest periods. In contrast, the weekly rest period is enshrined in the international working time regime. The Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921 (No. 14), and Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1957 (No. 106), require a rest period of at least 24 hours each week. Wherever possible, this rest period should be granted simultaneously to the whole of the staff of an establishment and fixed so as to coincide with traditional or customary days of rest. The Conventions permit certain exceptions from the entitlement to the weekly rest day, to be compensated by an equivalent rest period.
(ii) National standards
The Labor Act, 2006 postulates in section 101 the following limit of rest and break- (a) For more than 6-hour work in any day a worker has been allowed an interval of at least one hour. (b) For more than 5-hour work in any day a worker has been allowed an interval of at least half an one hour. (c) For more than 8-hour work in any day a worker has been allowed an interval of at least one hour or half an one hour.
1.6 Practical stance of Bangladesh
8-hour work, OT rules hardly followed. All the garments workers said that they work more than eight hours daily. Sometimes they work 13-14 hours a day. There are workers who even work extra five hours of daily OT. About one-third (33.5%) of the garments workers do not know the OT rate, with 13 per cent of the respondent garments workers getting less than Tk.10 for every hour of OT work against the minimum Tk.10.80 per hour OT work. For the construction workers, work hours range at 8-12 hours.
Weekly rest day and leaves not observed. Many garments workers do not have the chance to enjoy weekly rest day. Most workers get festival leave but employers often impose conditions to enjoy the leave. Legal provisions on casual leave, sick leave and annual leave are widely violated. Sometimes some employers make wage/salary deductions for the workers to enjoy weekly rest day, casual leave, sick leave and festival leave. In the construction industry, most workers do not have the chance to enjoy these leaves as the compensation policy is simply ‘no work, no pay’. Workers are entitled to rest and meal in a day as follows:
(i) one hour interval for over six hours work a day;
(ii) half an hour interval for more than five hour work; and
(iii) one hour interval once or half an hour interval twice for more than eight hours works a day.
- Leaves and Holidays
In Labor Law ‘Leaves and Holidays’ is an important issue and fundamental as well. An employee normally along with holidays is entitled to the following leaves:
Weekly Holy day
Annual leave and As per the Maternity Benefit Act of 1939 (now stands repealed), maternity leave with full pay. But we shall endeavour to focus on the above five types.
2.1 Weekly holiday:
An adult worker employed in an establishment- (a) which is a shop or commercial establishment, or industrial establishment, shall be allowed in each week one and half days holiday and in factory and establishment one day in a week; (b) which is a road transport service, shall be allowed in each week one day’s holiday of twenty four consecutive hours; and no deduction on account of such holidays shall be made from the wages of any such worker. The weekly Holydays Act of 1942 prescribes one paid holiday a week for persons employed in any shop, restaurant theater(excepting those employed in any a confidential capacity or in a position of management)The government is empowered to grant additional half- holiday with pay in a week.
Compensatory weekly holiday: Where, as a result of the passing of an order or the making of a rule under the provisions of this act exempting an establishment or the workers therein from the provisions of section 103, a worker is deprived of any of the weekly holidays provided for in that section, he shall be allowed, as soon as circumstances permit, compensatory holidays, of equal number to the holidays so deprived of.
2.2 Casual leave:
Situations like sudden illness, minor accidents, urgent purposes pave the eligibility of casual leave. It should be obtained on prior application unless the urgency prevents the making of such application. Casual leave is availed under section 115 of Labor Act, 2006. It is given with full wages for ten days in a year and will not be carried forward to the succeeding year. Other existing labor and industrial law regarding casual leave are same.
2.3 Sick leave:
Normally sick leave is availed of in support of a medical certificate. According to Section 116 of the Labour Act, 2006 No such leave shall be allowed unless a registered medical practitioner appointed by the employer or, if no such medical practitioner is appointed by the employer, any other registered medical practitioner, after examination, certifies that the worker is ill and requires sick leave for cure or treatment for such period as may be specified by him. Such leave shall not be accumulated and carried forward to the succeeding year. Every worker other than a newspaper worker shall be entitled to sick leave with full wages for fourteen days in a calendar year. Every newspaper worker shall be entitled to sick leave with half wages for not less than one-eighteenth of the period of service.
The Factories Act, 1965 Sub-Section (2) of Sections 80 Provides as follows: Every worker shall be entitled to fourteen days’ sick leave on half-average wages in a year.
Again, Section 16 of the Shops and Establishments Act, 1965 says that Every worker shall be entitled to sick leave With full wages for a total period of fourteen days in a year; if such leave not availed of by any worker during a calendar year may be carried forward, but the total accumulation of such leave shall not exceed twenty-eight days at any one time.
2.4 Annual leave with wages:
Section 117 of Labour Act, 2006 deals with annual leave. Normally, a worker, who completes one year of continuous service in an establishment, are allowed during the subsequent period of twelve months leave with Wages for a number of days calculated at a certain rate. Normally the rate for adult is:
(a) in case of a shop or commercial or industrial establishment or factory or road transport service, for every eighteen days of work ; (b) In the case of tea plantation, for every twenty two days of work; (c) In case of a newspaper worker, for every eleven days of work performed by him during the previous period of twelve months.
In cases of Workers who are not adult:
Workers who have completed one year of continuous service in an establishment, shall be allowed during the subsequent period of twelve months leave with wages for a number of days calculated at the rate of one day— (a) in case of a factory, for every fifteen days of work ; (b) In case of a tea plantation, for every eighteen days of work; (c) In the case of a shop or commercial or industrial establishment, for every fourteen days of work performed by him during the previous period of twelve months.
A period of leave allowed under this section shall be inclusive of any holiday which may occur during such period. If a worker does not, in any period of twelve months, take the leave to which he is entitled under sub-sections (1) or (2) of Section 117, either in whole or in part, any such leave not taken by him shall be added to the leave to be allowed to him, in the succeeding period of twelve months.
According to Section 7 of the Newspaper Employees (Conditions of service) Act, 1974, Every working journalist shall be entitled to Earned leave on full wages for not less than one-eleventh of the period spent on duty;
2.5 Limit of annual leave:
(1) An adult worker shall cease to earn any leave under this section, when the earned leave due to him amounts to- (a) In the case factory or road transport service, forty days; (b) in the case of tea plantation or shop or commercial or industrial establishment, sixty days;
(2) An adolescent worker: Will cease to earn any leave under this section, when the earned leave (a) in the case of a factory or tea plantation, sixty days; (b) in the case of a shop or commercial or industrial establishment, eighty days.
Any leave applied for by a worker but refused by the employer for any reason, shall be added to the credit of such worker beyond the aforesaid limit.
Section 27 of the Tea Plantation Labor Ordinance, 1962 prescribes that Every worker shall be allowed leave with wages for a number of days calculated at the rate of- Adult: one day for every thirty days of work performed by him; A young person: one day for every twenty days of work performed by him. A worker shall cease to earn any leave under this section when the leave with wages due to him amounts to thirty days.
If any interruption occurs during that service: For the purpose of this section a worker shall be deemed to have completed a period of continuous service in an establishment notwithstanding any interruption in service during that period due to - (a) Any holiday; (b) any leave with wages ; (c) any leave with or without wages due to sickness or accident; (d) any maternity leave not exceeding sixteen weeks ; (e) any period of lay-off; (f) a strike which is legal or a lock-out which is not illegal.
2.6 Festival Leave:
Section 118 of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 prescribes that every worker shall be allowed in a calendar year eleven days of paid festival holidays. The days and dates for such festivals shall be fixed by the employer in such manner as may be prescribed. A worker may be required to work on any festival holiday, but two days’ additional compensatory holidays with full pay and a substitute holiday shall be provided for him in accordance with the provisions of section 10.
The Shops and Establishments Act 1965, and the Factories Act, 1965 prescribes ten days festival holiday with full pay.
Calculation of wages and payment during leave or holiday period:
(1) For the leave or holidays allowed to a worker under the provisions of this Act, he shall be paid at the rate equal to the daily average of his full time wages including dearness allowances, and ad-hoc or interim pay, if any, for the days on which he worked during the month immediately preceding this leave but excluding any overtime allowance and bonus: Provided that if a worker in any establishment is entitled to cash equivalent of any advantage accruing from the supply of food grains, it shall be included in his wages. (2) A worker who has been allowed annual leave for a period of not less than four days in the case of an adult and five days in the case of an adolescent, at any time, shall, in so far as it is practicable, be paid his wages for the period of the leave so allowed, before his leave begins.
Sections 81 of the Factories Act, 1965 provides: “For the leave or holidays allowed to a worker under the provision of this Act, he shall be paid- (a) in case of leave with full wages, at the rate equal to the daily average of his full time earnings, including dearness allowance, if any, for the days on which he worked during the month immediately preceding his leave, but excluding any over-time earnings and bonus; and (b) in case of leave with half-average wages at the rate equal to half 0f the daily average of his earnings calculated in the manner provided in clause (a).
2.7 Procedure for leave:
(1)A worker who desires to obtain leave of absence has to apply to the employer for the same in writing stating his leave address therein. (2) The employer or his authorized officer shall issue orders on the application within seven days of the application or two days prior to the commencement of leave applied for, whichever is earlier; Provided that if due to urgent reasons the leave applied for is to commence on the date of application or within three days thereof the order shall be given on the same day.
(3) If the leave asked for is granted, a leave pass shall be issued to the worker. (4) If the leave asked for is refused or postponed the fact of such refusal or postponement, and the reasons thereof shall be communicated to the worker before the date on which the leave was expected to be commenced and shall also be recorded in a register to be maintained by the employer for the purpose. (5) If the worker, after proceeding of leave, desires an extension thereof, he shall, if such leave is due to him, apply sufficiently in advance before the expiry of the leave to the employer who shall, as far as practicable send a written reply either granting or refusing extension of leave to the worker to his leave-address.
Payment of wages for unavailed leave: If the service of a worker, to whom any annual leave is due, is dispensed with whether as a result of retrenchment, discharge, removal, dismissal, termination, retirement or by reason of his resignation before he has availed of any such leave, the employer shall pay his wages in lieu of the unaveiled leave at the rate he is entitled to the payment of wages during the period of leave in accordance with the provisions of those laws and such payments shall be made before the expiry of the second working day after the day on which his employment is dispensed with.
2.8 Unauthorized Leave:
Section 23 deals with Unauthorized leave. Unauthorized leave is misconduct. Clause (d) of sub- section (4) of section 23 provides that absence without leave for more than ten days is a kind of misconduct. For such misconduct a worker may be dismissed under section 23 of the code. Thus to dismiss a worker for unauthorized leave on the ground of misconduct, the worker must be absent without leave for more than ten days. If a worker is absent without leave for ten days or less, he cannot be dismissed under section 23 in the ground of misconduct.
Absence without leave for more than ten days may constitute misconduct for which a worker may be dismissed from service. In that event a proceeding is required to be drawn under the law to comply with the rule of principle of natural justice
Ramoalosi vs. Brikor (Pty) Ltd, GAPT1713-07 SAACAWU, Where the respondent claimed that the applicant had failed to inform it of his whereabouts. It indicated that it had a policy which states that unauthorised absence from work for a period of ten or more consecutive days is a dismissible offence. According to the respondent, all employees were aware of the policy. The respondent denied refusing the applicant to call witnesses. It argued that the applicant’s witnesses were on leave and he was advised to postpone the hearing, but had refused to do so. It also claimed that the applicant had deliberately stayed away from working because of the pending investigation. In the case of KRUSHNAKANT B. PARMAR vs. UNION OF INDIA & ANR, CIVIL APPEAL NO.2106 OF 2012, it was held that absence from duty without any application or prior permission may amount to unauthorized absence, but it does not always mean willful. There may be different eventualities due to which an employee may abstain from duty, including compelling circumstances beyond his control like illness, accident, hospitalization, etc., but in such case the employee cannot be held guilty of failure of devotion to duty or behavior unbecoming of a Government servant. If the absence is the result of compelling circumstances under which it was not possible to report or perform duty, such absence cannot be held to be willful.
- Maternity Benefit:
There has been a significant increase in the participation of women in the workforce of Bangladesh over the past few years. At present the women workers account for one-fourth, that is 12.1 million, of the total labor force of 49.5 million in Bangladesh.There have also been important legal reforms through the adoption of Labor Act, 2006 which removes certain ambiguities in the old, diverse labor laws and amendsoccupational safety issues like maternity benefits, health and hygiene, compensation for injuries etc. The Labor Act, 2006 repeals three previous Acts relating to maternity benefits-The Maternity Benefit Act, 1939, The Mines Maternity Benefit Act, 1941 and The Maternity Benefit (Tea Estate) Act, 1950 and incorporates almost all the provisions of these Acts in Chapter IV. Section 2(xxxiv) of the Act defines maternity benefit as the sum of money payable under the provisions of Chapter IV to a woman worker with leave. Section 45(1) of the Act prohibits an employer to employ a woman during the eight weeks immediately following the day of her delivery.Section 45(2) prohibits a woman employee to work in any establishment during the eight weeks immediately following the day of her delivery. Section 45(3) puts restriction in employing any woman for certain arduous work if she is likely to be delivered of a child within 10 weeks or has been delivered of a child within previous 10 weeks. In Section 46 of the Labor Act provisions have been made for maternity leave of 16 weeks (8 weeks before and 8 weeks after the delivery).It has also made the provision that this benefit shall only be available to workers who have served under the owner for a minimum period of 6-months prior to the notice of the probability of the delivery. Section 47 lays down the procedure regarding the payment of and Section 48 the amount of maternity benefit. Section 49 provides for the payment of maternity benefit in case of a woman’s death. Section 50 puts restriction on employment of a woman in certain cases. The government of Bangladesh thus has taken a commendable initiative by extending the maternity leave to 16 weeks from previous 12 weeks as was provided in the Maternity Benefit Act, 1939.
3.1 Implementation of Maternity Benefit Provisions in Bangladesh:
The principle purpose of providing 16 weeks maternity leave was to combat malnutrition and to ensure that the newer generation grows up to be much healthier both physically and mentally.It was also expected to help increase the productivity and motivation of the working women. However, the reality is that many women working in the private sector, especially those in the garments industry and in low-paying labor-intensive jobs, are not aware of their maternity related rights. Moreover, most non-government organizations and readymade garments sectors do not even allow four-months of leave for their female employees. The Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights reports that an estimated 90 percent of the 3,870 export oriented garment factories in Bangladesh violates women’s legal right to full paid maternity leave. Some companies harass women, force them to assume inferior position than was occupied by them prior to the leave and even pressurize them to quit. Employers shy away from providing a humane work environment and basic benefits because it increases their costs. In fact, most garment factory owners prefer to employ unmarried women for fear of pregnancy related problems, and many female workers lie about their marital status to get the job. A large number of temporary government servants are also denied maternity leave and benefits in violation of the Bangladesh Service Trust, which stipulates that maternity leave can be granted to a temporary government servant provided that she has been in government service for at least nine months immediately preceding the date of delivery. Temporary female workers are denied maternity rights, even if they have worked for a long period of time at a particular job. They are not given a contract, so there is no proof of how long they’ve worked. Kohinoor Mahmood, project coordinator of Women Workers Development project of the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, Even the government offices such as Titas, Public Works Department and city corporations do not provide benefits to their female staff. The penalty provided for the violation of any of the provisions of Chapter IV of the Act is maximum 5000 TK. which is too insufficient to put any kind of pressure on the employers to comply with the concerned provisions. Moreover, due to the lack of awareness of the women workers, this meager remedy as also not availed of by them. Women rights activists have tried to address some of these issues at the national level as well as within their own organizations through enacting gender-sensitive policies and programming. Labor unions are no longer as active as they once used to be, and in many crucial labor-intensive sectors there are no formal unions. Even within labor unions, the concerns of women aren’t always addressed. Although the government has taken a few notable initiatives over the past few years, it has failed to ensure their implementation in different sectors of the economy. As a result, the women workers are being deprived of these benefits. It is of utmost importance that the government takes some measures to provide protections to the vulnerable segment of female workers who work in the informal sector (more than 97 lakh women) and are not covered by the Labour Act 2006. Steps should also be taken to encourage the private institutions to ensure their women workers a developed, indiscriminate, more supportive, and gender-friendly working environment which will carry their financial progress to an enhanced level.
- Miscellaneous sections of Chapter 9 of the Labour Act, 2006:
Section 104 bearing the heading, Compensatory weekly holiday, states – Where, as a result of the passing of an order or the making of a rule under the provisions of this act exempting an establishment or the workers therein from the provisions of section 103, a worker is deprived of any of the weekly holidays provided for in that section, he shall be allowed, as soon as circumstances permit, compensatory holidays, of equal number to the holidays so deprived of. Section105 bearing the heading, Spread over states- The periods of work of and adult worker in an establishment shall be so arranged that, inclusive of his interval for rest or meal under section 101, it shall not spread over more than eleven hours ,and subject to such conditions as be may imposed by the Government, either generally or in the case of any particular establishment. Section 106 bearing the heading, Night shift, states-
Where, an adult worker in an establishment works on a shift which extends beyond midnight: (a) for the purposes of section 103 a holiday for a whole day shall mean in his case a period of twenty-four consecutive hours beginning from the end of his shift; and (b) the following day for him shall be deemed to be the period of twenty-four consecutive hours beginning from the end of this shift and the hours he has worked after midnight shall be ecounted towards the previous day. Section 107 bearing the heading, Restriction on cumulative hours of work on a vehicle, states- No worker shall work or be allowed to work on a vehicle or two or more vehicles in excess of the period during which he may be lawfully employed under this Act. Section 109. Limitation of hours of work for women : No women shall, without her consent, be allowed to work in an establishment between the hours of 10.00PM and 6.00 AM. Section 110. Restriction on double employment : No adult worker shall be employed or allowed to be employed for work in more than one establishment on any day, except on permission in writing from the chief Inspector on such terms and conditions as he may impose. Section 111. Notice of periods of work for adults and preparation thereof:
(1) There shall be displayed and correctly maintained in every establishment in accordance with the provisions of section 337, a notice of periods of work for adult workers showing clearly the periods which adult workers may be required to work. (2) The periods shown in he notice shall be fixed beforehand in accordance with the provisions of this section and shall be such that workers working during such periods would not be working in contravention of the provisions of sections, 100, 101, 102, 103 and 105. (3) Where all the adult workers in an establishment are required to work during the same period, the employer, shall fix those periods generally. (4) Where all the adult workers in an establishment are not required to work during the same periods, the employer, shall classify them into groups according to the nature of their work, and indicate the number of workers in each group. (5) For each group which is not required to work on a system of shifts, the employer shall fix the period during which the group may be required to work. (6) Where any group is required to work on a system of shifts, and the relays are not on a undetermined periodical changes, the employer shall fix the periods during which each relay of the group may be required to work. (7) Where any group is required to work on a system of shifts, and the relays are or are intended to be subject to predetermined periodical changes of shifts, the employer, shall draw up a scheme of shifts, where under the periods during which any relay of the group may be required to work on the relay which will be working at any time of the day shall be known for any day. (8) A copy of the notice shall be sent in duplicate to the Inspector before the day on which an establishment begins work, for approval of the periods of work by the Inspector. (9) The Inspector shall return a copy of the notice to the employer within one week of its receipt, indicating modifications if any; the employer shall immediately comply with the modifications, if made and shall preserve the approval in the records of the establishment. (10) Any proposed change in the system of work in an establishment which will necessitate a change in the notice shall be notified to the Inspector in duplicate before the change is made, and, except with the previous sanction of the Inspector, no such change shall be made, (11) An employer may refuse to employ a worker for any day if on that day he turns up for work more than half an hour after the time fixed for the commencement of the days work.
Section 112. Special age limit for Road transport Service worker Section: (1) No person shall be employed as driver, in an establishment which is a road transport service unless he has attained the age of twenty one years. (2) No person shall be employed in an establishment which is a road transport service in any other post unless he has attained the age of eighteen years. Section 113. Hours of work to correspond with notice and register : No adult worker shall be required or allowed to work otherwise than in accordance with the notice under section 111(1) and the entries made beforehand against his name in the register maintained under section. Section 114. Closure of shops, etc.: (1) Every establishment which is shop or commercial or industrial establishment shall remain entirely closed for at least one and a half day in each week. (2) The one and half day on which establishments shall remain entirely closed, shall be fixed for each area by the chief Inspector. Provided that the chief Inspector may, from time to time, refix such day for each area in the public interest. (3) No shop shall on any day remain open after the hours of 8.00 O’clock post maritime: Provided that any customer who was being or was waiting in the shop to be served at such hour, may be served during the period of thirty minutes immediately following such hour: (4) The Government may, on consideration of special circumstances, alter, by notifications in the official Gazette, the closing hours of shops in any area in any season on such conditions as may be imposed.
(5) The provisions of this section shall not apply to-
(a) docks, wharves or stations and terminal offices or transport services including airports; (b) shops dealing mainly in any vegetable, meat, fish, dairy products, bread, pasties, sweetmeats and flowers; (c) shops dealing mainly in medicines, surgical appliances, bandages or other medical requisites; (d) shops dealing in articles required for funerals, burials or cremation; (e) shops dealing mainly in tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, biris, pan, liquid refreshments, newspapers or periodicals sold retail for consumption in the premises, ice; (f) petrol pumps for the retail sale of the petrol and automobile service stations not being repair workshops; (g) barbars’ and hair dressers’ shops; (h) any system of public conservancy or sanitation, (i) any industry, business or undertaking which supplies power, light or water to the public; (j) clubs, hotels, restaurants, catering houses cinemas or theatres:
Provided that where several trades or business are carried on in the same shop or commercial establishment and, the majority of them, by their nature, are eligible to exemption under this section, the exemption will apply to the entire shop or commercial establishment: Provided further that the Chief Inspector may, by a general or special order, published in the official Gazette, fix the opening or closing hours for any of the foregoing establishments or class of establishment.
Weekly Working Hours and maximum limit:
The 40-hour per week is now the most prevalent weekly working hour’s standard. Almost half of the 103 countries reviewed for this report have adopted a normal limit of 40 hours or less. As a developing country Bangladesh has a scope to reduce the number of weekly hours under section 102 of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006. Besides the maximum weekly working hours in our country is very high which also persuades the employer to forced labor which brings effect catastrophic effect for the adolescent and female workers. This over-working also lowers the normal life expectancy of workers in certain types of industries which need much more physical labour than the other industries.
A year may be divided into two seasons:
Working ten hours daily in Counties situated in torrid region (hot weather) especially during summer season is really tough. Atmospheric conditions in industries like tannery, mining, iron, chemicals, plastics, sugar, jute is normally hot and unhealthy and if it be in summer season the workers has to work with excessive pressure which brings frequently various types of physical abnormality to them. Workers of such types of industries get short span of life also. Working ten hours per day during winter season may not be too much harmful but in cases of some industries like aforementioned, during summer season is no doubt harmful. Thus, in section 108 of the Bangladesh Labour Act,2006, maximum working hours should be divided in two seasons in a year – (a) Summer and (b) Winter and during summer season the maximum weekly working time should be reduced to 55 hours or less for a certain types of industries which need excessive physical labour.
Article 3 of convention no. 90 of ILO:
According to that article which has been ratified by Bangladesh, young persons under eighteen years of age shall not be employed or work during the night in any public or private industrial undertaking or in any branch thereof except in some cases as mentioned there. Young workers are not matured enough to perform duty at night though are appointed in many arduous duties in daytime. Thus, we may introduce this provision in Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006.
No prohibition and limitation as regard to the overtime in The Labour Act,2006: Though in the international standards there are prohibition and limitation as to the overtime work like, the Reduction of Hours of Work Recommendation, 1962 (No.116), however, calls for consideration to be taken when arranging overtime work to the special circumstances of young workers, Pregnant and nursing women and handicapped workers. But in our national legal system there is no such provision.
The following recommendations are to be enacted –
(i) 40-hour work per week according to international standards.
(ii) Monitoring cell for the supervision of daily and weekly working hours.
(iii) Monitoring cell for the supervision of overtime working hour and payment of its compensation.
(iv) Restructuring the working hours on seasonal basis.
(v) Certain prohibition as to the overtime work of certain classes of worker like children, pregnant women and elderly workers.
(vi) Inclusion of paternity benefit so as to be beneficial to the pregnant mother, as it has been incorporated in developed nation’s labour law.
The Labour Act, 2006 enacted consolidating other 25 labour related laws mandating working hour, leave and holidays along with maternity benefit and so on. This paper sought to examine these provisions focusing both national and international labour law system. Most of the cases the provisions relating to these in the national labour law system are almost similar to international level. But the implementationof our national labour law system is just opposite. Few amendments are required for removing the incompleteness and incorporating required provisions as per the recommendations mentioned above.