Job Listings Can’t Bar Qualified Female Candidates Citing Night Hours: Kerala HC

In the past, one of the provisions that were added to the Factories Act, 1948, was that ‘women employees shall not be required or permitted to work except between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m’. This was done to protect women so that they were not exploited.

However, when Treasa Josefine, a Safety and Fire Engineering graduate from Kollam, saw a job notification from a PSU named Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited for the post of a permanent Safety Officer, she found that only male candidates could apply. She filed a petition in court saying that it was discriminatory.

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To this, the PSU stated in Kerala High Court that the position required working at night if required and they were following the provisions of the Factory Act. According to The New Indian Express, Justice Anu Sivaraman observed,

“We have reached a stage where the contributions made by women in the spheres of economic development cannot be ignored by any industry. Women are being engaged to work during all hours in several industries including Health Care, Aviation, and Information Technology. Women have been engaged in several professions requiring round the clock labour and have proved themselves quite capable of facing the challenges of such engagement.”

NDTV quoted her adding,

“Protective provisions cannot stand in the way of a woman being considered for employment for which she is otherwise eligible. It is the bounden duty of the respondents who are government and government functionaries to take all appropriate steps to see that a woman is able to carry out the duties assigned to her at all hours, safely and conveniently.”

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“If that be so, there would be no reason for denying appointment to a qualified hand only on the ground that she is a woman and because the nature of the employment would require her to work during night hours. Such protective provisions cannot stand in the way of a woman being considered for employment for which she is otherwise eligible.”

The court has now ruled that the job notification violates the provisions of Articles 14, 15, and 16 of the Constitution of India and that the petitioner’s application should be considered for the position.

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