Approval for shops, malls, cinema theatres to stay open 24 hours

New Delhi, 29th June A model law that allows shops, malls, banks, cinema halls, restaurants and other retail establishments to operate round the clock throughout the year has received Cabinet assent. The law gives complete flexibility to establishments for their operation timings.

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“The Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services) Bill 2016” was cleared by the Cabinet in its meeting on Wednesday. The law covers establishments employing 10 or more workers except manufacturing units and will provide freedom to operate 365 days, 24 hours with flexibility on timing to open and close. It also provides for women to be employed on night shifts subject adequate security measures and calls for better working conditions for employees such as drinking water, canteen, first aid, lavatory and crèche etc.

Malls and Cinemas staying open till late will benefit common citizens and businessmen alike. Many a time’s people come home late from work and are unable to carry out their routine shopping. Some are switching to the online shopping portals. But the shoppers visiting the Malls are huge in number.

Currently, retail operating hours are governed by local laws, and the police often restrict movement of people at night citing law and order concerns. The smaller shops are restricted to normal hours and weekly one day closure. The current regulations on the other hand allow Malls to compete unfairly by allowing them to be open till late night all days of the week. Smaller shops now have the option to stay open all seven days.

If the malls don’t have restrictions then why should the small shopkeepers have restrictions? So, now if a shopkeeper operates his shop till late and on all seven days, if he earlier employed one person, now he will have to employ two people. So won’t employment increase?” Modi said in a television interview on June 27

The proposal was finalized, tabled   and approved by the cabinet in very short time. This decision by the Central Government Cabinet will facilitate ease of doing business and generate employment opportunities

The model law is not mandatory and is only an advisory. The Labor Ministry has suggested the states could consider for enforcement either by adopting the central law or necessary modification by the state law. The law has been designed to bring in uniformity in legislative provisions, making it easier for all the states to adopt it and ensure uniform working conditions across the country.

The law also provides exemption to highly-skilled workers like those in IT and bio-technology from daily working hours (9 hours) and weekly working hours (48 hours).

People have expressed their satisfaction as many businesses will benefit by this decision. At the same time, the new regulations will give offline retailers more flexibility to compete with online players such as Flipkart and Amazon.