CHENNAI: In a major boost to local trade, shops in Tamil Nadu can now stay open for 24 hours, seven days a week. A new state government order permits shops and establishments to remain open round-the-clock for a period of three years.
The order has come across as a boon to shopkeepers and traders associations which have been demanding a 24-hour operation permit from the state. Currently, only a handful establishments such as IT companies, hospitals, pharmacies and factories are allowed to operated 24*7.
However, the order comes with certain clauses such as increasing protection for women workers, one weekly holiday for every employee, and the provision of restroom, washroom, safety lockers, and other basic amenities. The order could also be modified during the period of three years.
To ensure women’s safety, the order states that female employees will not be allowed to work beyond 8 pm on any day “in normal circumstances”. After the employer obtains written consent, the woman employee will be allowed to work between 8 pm and 6 am, subject to providing adequate protection of dignity, honor and safety.
It also mentions, ‘Transport arrangements shall be provided to the woman employee who works in shifts. A notice to this effect shall be exhibited at the main entrance of the establishment indicating the availability of transport.”
The announcement was met with enthusiasm by both employers and employees working late hours or night-shifts and those preferring to venture out for a late-night meal.
Welcoming the development, Chennai Hotel Association President Ravi said, “For over 20 years we have been fighting to get this permission. A case was also filed in the Madras High Court, as some shopkeepers are asked to shut shop by the Police after 10pm. Henceforth, there will be an increase in our income and we will make necessary arrangements for additional staff, night shift to provide freshly-cooked food and refreshments in the wee hours as well.”
“It will definitely be very helpful for IT employees, when we get back home very late we can’t go cook and we only look at restaurants. Hereafter, we don’t have to restrict ourselves to the handful that are open”, said J Sowmya, a techie.
With eateries and restaurants all set to benefit from the increased revenues of long hours, the government can cheer about better productivity and higher tax revenues. Customers too have a reason to relax as they can grab their favorite meal or groceries at their own convenience.
In 2016, the Narendra Modi government had cleared the Model Shops and Establishment Bill, 2016, allowing retail commercial establishments to stay open 24 hours, seven days a week.
Maharashtra and Gujarat already have similar permits, allowing shops and establishments operate 24*7.