Factories Act 1965

Factories Act 1965 (Act XXV of 1934) was adopted with the objective of regulating the appointment of workers, their wages and the working conditions in factories, including health and hygiene, safety, welfare, working hours, leave and holidays, and punishments and penalties for both the owners and workers for non-compliance of the requirements. East Pakistan Factories Act 1965 was a revised form of the Act XXV of 1934. It was published in the Dhaka Gazette Extraordinary in September 1965. The government of Bangladesh adopted the Act and declared it enforceable throughout the country. It has 11 chapters and 116 sections.

The Act defines and clarifies various terms included in it. Important among such terms are: adolescent, adult, child, day, explosive substance, factory, machinery, manufacturing process, occupier, prime mover, shift in factory, transmission machinery, working hour, and wages. It describes the power of the government relating to declaration of departments as separate factories, notification by the chief inspector before commencement of work, and declaration of any factory as seasonal (depending upon the number of working days in a year or in a particular season). It incorporates the provisions for obtaining approval of factory plans, including the construction or extension, class or description of factories from the chief inspector. It also specifies the fees for licensing and registration.

The Act incorporates rules for appointing the chief inspector, inspectors and certifying surgeons by the government for overseeing the purposes of the Act and certifying the fitness of workers. According to the Act, every factory is to be maintained clean and free from effluvia arising from any drain, privy or other nuisance. Effective arrangements are to be made in every factory for the disposal of wastes and effluents, prevention of accumulation of dust and fume, and proper ventilation and maintenance of room temperature.

The Act requires that factory must ensure adequate fire safety measures, appropriate means of escaping in case of fire, and protection against dangerous and accident-prone parts of machinery, electric and mechanical devices, self-acting machines, etc. Workers are to be given proper training before they are employed on dangerous machines. Controlling appliances of cranes and other lifting machines, hoists and lifts must be of good construction, sound material and adequate strength. Other sources of dangers, such as pits, sumps, openings in floors, etc, should be securely covered or fenced and effective screens or suitable goggles should be provided to workers to protect their eyes. Every factory is to have adequate and suitable facilities for washing and bathing and provide first-aid medicines and appliances. Canteens and rooms for children should also be maintained. In every factory wherein five hundred or more workers are employed, the occupier should employ a number of welfare officers as may be prescribed.

Under the Act no adult worker shall be allowed to work in a factory for more than forty-eight hours in a week or on weekly holidays unless stated otherwise. Workers may, however, be put to work on off days, but only with the provision for an equal number of compensatory holidays. Other rules regarding working hours of adults relate to daily working hours, interval for rest or meals, spreadover, night shifts and prohibition of overlapping shifts, extra allowances for overtime, restriction on double employment, notice of periods of work, and registration of adult workers. The Act prohibits employment of any child under the age of 14 in any factory. An adolescent may be employed only after granting a certificate of fitness issued by a certifying surgeon. Working hours for such young persons, if employed, shall not be more than five hours a day. They shall not be allowed to work between 7 pm and 7 am. In every factory, a notice of the periods of work for children shall be displayed and a register maintained. The inspector of factories is empowered to order the medical examination of a child worker if required.

Under different circumstances and conditions laid down in various sections of the Act, workers are entitled to have certain days as annual leave with wages, festival holidays, and casual and sick leave. However, the workers may be allowed some leave without pay. The government is empowered to make rules regarding leave and holidays for factory workers. The Act has provisions regarding dangerous operations in any factory, notices of certain accidents, dangerous occurrences and certain diseases. Penalties for employers indicated in the Act include general penalty for offences, such as obstructing inspectors, wrongful disclosure of information or disclosure of restricted information, and employment of child workers.

The Factories Act has provisions for making appeal by parties concerned in factories, such as owner/occupiers, managers, inspectors and workers. The government can formulate rules for factories for the submission of returns to regulatory authorities. Workers are prohibited to interfere in any affairs of the factory, which may cause loss or damage to the factory itself or to other workers. The Act also made a provision for repeal and it declared that notwithstanding the repeal, any order or notification issued, any action taken, any proceeding commenced or anything done under any provision of the Act shall continue in force. [Abul Kalam Azad]