The Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishment Act has been enacted to regulate the working conditions, rights of employees in the unorganised sector and to provide for statutory obligations of the employers. The Act covers all shops, commercial establishments, residential hotels & restaurants, theatres, and other establishments. The recent amendment to the Rules of the said Act (Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishment Rules) dated 16.09.2015 has introduced additional responsibilities to the management of establishments.
A shop or an establishment having 20 or more employees are classified as big establishments while those with less than 20 but more than 6 employees are classified as medium and establishments with less than 6 employees are termed small establishments.
Important changes introduced by the Amendment are:
- Appointment Letter made mandatory: The amendment has made it mandatory that an appointment letter in Form BC be issued by every employer of a medium or a big establishment to the employees appointed or engaged by him on his/her appointment/engagement. In cases where the appointment was made before the commencement of the Kerala Shops & Commercial Establishment (Amendment) Rules, 2015, the appointment letter shall be issued within three months from the date of the commencement of the Kerala Shops & Commercial Establishment (Amendment) Rules, 2015,. A copy of the appointment letter issued in such way shall be retained by the employer for a period of three (3) years from the date of issue.
- Identity Card: The issuance of Identity Card to all employees appointed /engaged in a big establishment in Form BD by the employer has been made mandatory.
- Certificate of Service: Issuance of service certificate in Form BE has been made mandatory and should be issued within seven days of the receipt of such an application made by the employee to his/her employer. A copy of the same shall be retained by the employer for a period of three (3) years from the date of issue.
- Urinals: Every big establishment has to ensure at least one latrine each for every 20 females and every 20 males separately, whereas the minimum number is one each for males and females in a small or medium establishment.
- Rest rooms: Rest rooms has been made mandatory for every medium and big establishment. The amendment mandates that such rest rooms should have sufficient space proportionate to the number of employees employed in such establishment and that it should be sufficiently lighted and ventilated maintained in a clean and good condition. The Restrooms should be conveniently located within or adjacent to the establishment and should be furnished with sufficient number of chairs or benches with back rest. The other amenities/facilities made mandatory in the restroom includes drinking water facility and tables for the purpose of the use of employees having food.
For such establishment employing five or more female employees, the amendment provides for separate rest rooms with facilities for maintaining personal hygiene of the female employees and for disposal of sanitary napkins.
The amendment also strictly prohibits the installation of any electronic surveillance or similar equipment inside or adjacent to the restroom which may infringe on the privacy rights of the employees.
- Hostel Facility: Free hostel facilities have been made compulsory for all establishments having more than 50 employees, where separate hostel facilities shall be provided for men and women employees whose residence is located at a distance of more than 25 kilometres from the Establishment. The amendment also states that such hostel facilities should maintain specific standards as prescribed under the Shops and Commercial Establishment Rules. Other facilities and amenities like drinking water, ventilation, lighting, hygienically maintained urinals and latrines (one per 10 employees) protection against heat, wind and rain, storage facilities, comfortable mattress and pillows, specific measurement with regards to beds, space etc has been mandated.
- Mandatory Protective Measures: The amendment mandates certain protective measures to be adopted by Employers such as:
- Provide protective equipment and clothing with quality as prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standards wherever there is a likelihood of bodily injury or exposure to physical/chemical hazards.
- Any accidents occurring in the establishment, as a result of which bodily injury has been caused to a person and such person is unable to work for a period of 48 hours or more due to such injury, shall be reported to the Inspector within 3 days of the occurrence of the accident and in case of death or fatal accident within 24hrs.
- The employer should provide goggles for protecting the eyes to employees working for or near a process carried out in the establishment which has the possibility of causing thermal/chemical injury to the eye.
- In every medium establishment the Employer shall provide and maintain First Aid Box with all the particulars detailed in the Rules.
- Crèches: Every employer employing more than 20 women employees shall provide and maintain crèche facility, free of cost, for the children of employees under six (6) years of age having specific standards as prescribed in the Rules. Mandatory facilities include easy accessibility, engaging one female for every 30 children, who has the required and prescribed training in the child care field, availability of milk and other nourishments for kids etc.
The amendment states that two or more employers may also join to provide a common crèche for its employees.
- Submission of Annual Welfare Return: Every employer of medium or big establishment shall submit an Annual Welfare Return in Form 1 to the Inspector on or before 15th February of every year.
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