A committee of legislators, headed by Congress MLA NA Haris, had recently floated a proposal stating that women working in the private sector should be allowed to opt out of nights-shifts and that companies must not "force" them to work at night. While this had got many women IT workers riled up, stating that the government need not dictate their choices at work, Haris says that the government is only trying to help women.
The women and child welfare committee, in its 32nd report, suggested that women working in the Information Technology and Biotechnology sectors must be assigned morning or afternoon shifts to respect the "safety, security and privacy of women".
"The committee visited the offices of Infosys and Biocon in Bengaluru and we received feedback from all stakeholders including the employees and management. Most of the women did not want to work the night shifts and that's why we made the recommendation,” committee Chairman, MLA Haris told TNM.
The reason, he said, was that women had more responsibilities at home. “Based on the feedback we got, it was clear that women have more social responsibilities and that working the night shift may result in the women neglecting their children. A man can help out but a child needs the attention of both parents," Haris added.
The MLA went on to say that in reality, in most of the households, the responsibility falls heavily on women.
"I am not against women working night shifts and neither is the committee. We have suggested that women can opt out of it, and not banned them from working the night shift. They have to be given the option because, even today, as sad as it is, most of the responsibilities of a family are borne by women," MLA Haris added.
In the wake of sexual assault cases coming to light in the city, Haris said that it is the duty of the elected representative to look out for the safety of women.
"The media is hyping this issue. It is not old-fashioned to believe that citizens must be protected. What is the point of them electing us if we do not perform our duties?" Haris questioned.
This move, however, has not pleased some of the Bengaluru techies. Thirty-two-year-old Prachita Suleman, an employeee in an IT firm in Bengaluru, is a mother of a three-year-old boy.
"I have been working for almost seven years now and I have never faced any major crisis in my life for working the night shift. My husband and I both work night shifts. On days when our shift timings clash, we have a nanny who looks after our son. The company provides pick up and drop facilities. It is safe and there is nothing to worry about," Prachita said.
Samanvita Rai, a 24-year-old techie who works in Bellandur, feels that this is yet another way of "men trying to suppress women".
"The idea of equality in a workplace has just begun to take stock in people's minds and now the government wants to rewind the situation. If this is implemented, then companies will obviously hesitate to hire women as they will not be allowed to work at night. How can some government official dictate my choice of work? If I want to work at night I should be able to, and this recommendation comes from a women welfare committee which is headed by a man. Hats off to our government," Samanvita said.