Practicing Hr Professional
Hr Professional

Hi Friends,

Recently Karnataka government’s labour minister proposed a ban on women working in night shifts and beyond 8 pm in all sectors, except IT & BT. The reason given was the security issues. Is this ban really is going to workout on all sectors, especially service industries and call centers. If this is the situation, is the law of equal employment and equal remuneration aspects will be rolled back? If there is no night shift for women, then the salary and other benefits were being paid to them equivalent to male colleagues will be taken back or the companies will increase the salaries and offer other benefits only to the male employees to compensate them and create imbalance in the industry. My other question is if this step is being taken just because of the security reason, does this not applicable to IT & BT sectors.

This portraits that, only IT & BT industries are taking care of their employees and other industries not doing so. I think it is not so. In my company most of the women employees are allowed to work till 10 pm and the drop facility with security guard is being offered. (Ours is an engineering company) When women employees can do any job, and paid equal to men, then why this discrimination?

This may be followed by the other states also, as the crime rate against women are on rise. Instead of making this rule, why can't the government can provide additional forces to the police and provide safety to all the people in night times. If we consider the security as an issue, even male employees are being attacked and being waylaid with ththeiraluables. If so will the government consider a ban on complete cancellation of night shift in future for all employees? It may not! Secondly the approximate ratio of male victims against women are 3:1. Atleast three males are attacked or murdered while one woman is being assaulted or abused or murdered.

The government is talking about equal before law as per the constitution, then why such rules and bans are being implemented.

We, the HR professionals in a situation now to take decision or make policy in C& B, and other welfare policies accordingly if this rules come into force. So I request all of you to participate in this discussion and express your views.


From India, Bangalore
Personally I’m against any discrimination be it because of gender, race, creed, caste or anything else.
So the Indian public debate about “illegalizing” it for women to work late or in bars and such is quite depressing for me as it has nothing to do with emancipation or equal opportunities and equality.
The same apply for policies designed to be mono-directional; if you want a harassment policy it should not only be for women but also men. If you want flexible working hours it should be for all and based on functions not gender.
To take away any human being’s right to self-determination in the name of “security and it’s for you own sake” is questionable.

Hi Umesh,

this is a very difficult topic. Please go through the article below which clearly describes the state of affairs using the case studies of two very renowned companies:

Corporate strategies are nowadays considered critical in the promotion of gender equality in the workplace. Promoting an equality sensitive approach in human resource management is still a major challenge for companies and policymakers. The two company case examples operate in the financial services sector with their headquarters in the Netherlands. Both companies have put strategies in place to improve the representation of women at higher-level positions by facilitating flexible working hours and contributing to childcare costs.

At European level, an equal opportunities policy has been developed through a series of Community Action Programmes. These have been aimed at enhancing women’s rights in terms of employment and pay; promoting equality by means of positive action in favour of women; and promoting female employment through initiatives in education and training, new technologies, social security, and the reconciliation of work and family life.

Corporate context

Companies in Europe operate in a rapidly changing industrial context. Most European countries face market maturity, increased competition and fragmentation of markets. Given the demand for high skills in a shrinking labour pool, it is important that employers build on the strengths of non-traditional labour and work to meet employees’ changing needs and aspirations.

In this context, corporate strategies are increasingly important to promote gender equality in the workplace. In today’s work environment, however, inequality can be manifested in numerous ways: women are often underrepresented in professional or managerial levels, while women workers are concentrated in traditional types of employment. In general, women have less access to skill and career development initiatives and tend to work in jobs that offer limited flexibility.

Whether corporate programmes and policies are the result of national legislation, collective bargaining, or human resources management, they not only have positive consequences for women, but for the organisation as a whole. Research shows that an understanding of the value of equality results in both cultural and behavioural change in the work environment. In particular, there is a change in the perception of women’s skills, worth and role. The organisation in general shows improved retention, attendance and levels of job satisfaction. Moreover, women are more likely to return to work after maternity leave. All of these initiatives can give an organisation competitive advantage and contribute to a positive public image.

Two case examples: ABNAMRO bank and Rabobank

The two company case examples operate worldwide in the financial services sector with their headquarters in the Netherlands. Both companies, the ABNAMRO bank and the Rabobank, have introduced policies to improve the representation of women at higher-level positions by facilitating flexible working hours and contributing to childcare costs.


Company background

ABNAMRO was officially formed in 1990 through the merger of two of the largest Dutch banks, ABN and AMRO. It is recognised as the most important Dutch bank internationally, having more than 1,900 branches in more than 70 countries. The bank is one of the eight largest banks in the world and belongs to Europe’s top five with its headquarters located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Although ABNAMRO has experienced no mass redundancies, the bank faces unbalanced staffing. The number of clerical jobs has decreased because of new technology, while the numbers of tellers has diminished with the spread of automatic cash dispensers. Many small offices have been closed. In general, the bank has a lower number of low-skilled workers than before but female employees are over-represented in this category.

Company initiatives

In 1996, ABNAMRO implemented an equity plan called the ‘M/F programme’ (Male/Female policy). The M/F programme aims at changing the organisational culture and at increasing the number of women in higher-level positions. As the reconciliation of work and family life is considered of great importance for female employees, ABNAMRO’s related polices can be included as part of the bank’s equality plan. The programme for ‘New Life Balance’ includes financial contributions towards employees’ childcare arrangements and flexible working hours.

M/F Programme : ABNAMRO’s M/F programme focuses on increasing the number of women at higher-level positions through a balanced staff composition. The bank explicitly mentions the gender programme in its recruitment and career policies. In accordance with this aim, ABNAMRO has become a subsidiary of Opportunity in Business . This organisation advises the bank on how to improve women’s inflow and career development, as well as to dissuade female employees from leaving the company. Recruitment of female trainees is important. ABNAMRO seeks to recruit women for 50% of positions.

New Life Balance : In the 1995-1998 collective agreements, the 36-hour working week was introduced. Employees can work four days of nine hours, instead of five days of eight hours. In the 2000 company-based collective agreement, employees can set their own working time schedule. In addition, both male and female employees can apply for financial support towards the costs of day-care, nannies, or out-of-school care.


Since the merger in 1990, the proportion of women employed in the lowest of the high grades has increased from 22.4% in 1995 to 24.4% in 1996, to 26.9% in 1997, and to 27.9% in 1998. Although the percentage of women in the higher grades is still lower, a small increase is visible.

In the new company-based agreement, flexible working hours have been introduced, allowing the employee to set the hours of work, provided that the supervisor agrees. Part-time hours have been of great importance for female employees who prefer to continue their job after having children.

Regarding childcare, male and female employees can apply for financial support for the costs of day-care, nannies, or out of school care.


Company background

The Rabobank was officially formed in the early 1970s through the merger of two large Dutch banks, the Raiffeissen and the Boerenleenbank. The Rabobank Group consists of 420 cooperative local Rabobanks, Rabobank Netherlands and Rabobank International. The latter is the Group’s global wholesale provider, with branches in Europe, South Africa, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Turnover rates for women are higher than for men in Rabobank. Higher turnover rates have two important implications:

because length of service is a common condition for career progression, the percentage of women in higher-level jobs will remain lower than would have been the case if turnover rates were equal;

a decline in employment will affect women’s employment to a larger extent than it will for men’s employment in the bank.

Company initiatives

Equality policies outlined by Rabobank focused on three major areas: the representation of women at higher-level positions, part-time employment and the bank’s contributions to employees’ childcare costs.

Women at higher-level positions : The proportion of women in managerial jobs should increase. For each job vacancy at managerial level, at least one of the female applicants will be invited to an interview; part-time working hours are explicitly allowed in managerial jobs; and the bank will review its image with regard to female-friendliness.

Part-time employment : The new collective agreement is in accordance with the ‘Adjustment of Working Hours Bill’, to take effect on 1 July 2000. This act provides employees with the legal right to change the number of hours they work. Employees are also allowed to vary their starting and finishing times, as long as this does not conflict with operational or departmental interests. Furthermore, instead of being paid for extra working days, employees can ‘save’ these days and take long-term leave after some years, or take extra days off and have the gross wages pro rata reduced, or work extra days and have these days paid at the end of the month.

Childcare programme : The employer will contribute to the costs of day-care, a nanny or out-of-school care. In all cases, the childcare arrangements must be made through a recognised centre. In the case of day-care, the centre has to meet municipal quality requirements. The contribution is limited to two children per employee.


Although the policy document on female employees is not fully implemented, the percentage of women in higher grades has shown a gradual increase. For trainee positions, Rabobank aims to recruit women for 50% of the positions. This strategy has been quite successful, though the number of trainee positions has declined in recent years.

The policies to increase the number of women in managerial positions have been less comprehensively implemented than those for part-time employment and for childcare arrangements. Although the proportion of women in higher grades has gradually increased because women are more qualified to take up these positions, it seems to be difficult to speed up this process. While policies have been mainstreamed, no specific targets have been formulated.

Promoting gender equality

Both company case examples were part of the Foundation’s project on promoting gender equality in the workplace, which was commissioned in 1999. It was based on 21 case studies examining approaches to gender equality in seven European Union countries (Germany, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom).

The consolidated report (pdf 642 kb) describes the operation of workplace gender equality strategies in these seven countries of the European Union and assesses their impact on both employees and the organisation. It outlines the reasons for the success or failure of these programmes and draws up recommendations for decision makers.

Hope this was an interesting read.

Warm regards,


From India
Hi Ambarish,

Nice reply from you. I think you have done brief research on this topic. The example of ABN AMRO & Rabo Bank is really wonderful and given us a good information. But the policy of both the institutions are concentrated on equality in filling up the vacancy at top positions and not in lower level positions. This equality should be considered for all positions right from the lower level. This mostly applicable to those who are at lower levels. Because top management people anyway given all the benefits what male employees are getting. But what about the lower level people. We can't compare a GM and a accounts assistant in case of equality. The GM is given vehicle even though she goes at 4 pm. But whereas the female accounts assistant is provided with transportation may be only after 8 pm. Consider here both are female employees.

Ok but our concern is why the government is making discrimination based on gender though all are equal before the law. The female employees are paid equivalent to male employees, and given positions also equivalent to males. Then why this discrimination, a political stunt or really they are concerned about women. If they are concerned about women, then what about men. They are also prone to all types of attacks from the criminals and the anti social elements. Then that case why these governments are politicians are not taking concern about all the people. Even women are ready to work in night shifts but because of these type of biased laws, the govts are creating a imbalanced situation in all the places.

Our concern is when all are equal why this discrimination.



From India, Bangalore
Ambarish - it’s a very interesting article and a very complicated discussion.

Please be patient with me but I just need to be very explicit and paint it in black en white.

The article you are quoting is about giving possibilities to women whereas the proposal is about taking away women’s rights in the name of security.

Why not cover women completely with clothing or deny them the possibility for leaving home? After all this is the most secure… I know what I prefer ;-)

Coming back to the article and the policies described therein, I of cause acknowledge that you on a saturated marked need to revise existing policies in order to make the workplace more attractive for both genders.

I’m against positive discrimination where one gender is preferred over the other due to policy reasons and the wish for having equal numbers of both genders.

So to wrap up and as a comment to Umesh I must admit that I seriously doubt that female employees are paid equivalent to male employees, and given positions also equivalent to males in India (they are not in other countries and I do not think that India is doing a better job so to speak)

So there is a long way to go for equality; I just don’t believe that it is ethical correct to overcome discrimination by putting in another form for discrimination. After all then nothing has changed, no?

Dear Mr. Nicholas,

As I know, in most of the industries the women are paid equally against men. May be in construction industry at the worker level, there is a discrimination, and the women are paid less. The discrimination is being eliminated in all industries. Earlier days women are not allowed to drive a heavy vehicles, or a perception that they can't do it. But some state governments are appointing the women to drive state corporation buses. Women are appointed as conductors in long route buses. Even you could see women pilots.

So far the only field the women not entered is soldier position in defence sector. ( I think so But I am not sure.) Recently I read a news item in a newspaper, the women are willing to take up the assignment of soldier also, and ready to work in border areas.

This gives a positive note about the country's development, but at the same time the policies are laws made by our " Nethas" like this ban on night shift for women employees etc taking a step back in country's development.

My question is does the women really feel that they can't work in the night shifts? Really they are worried about their safety? My question to all women employees is like this: You people don't want to work on night shifts just because of the privilege of women employees? Are you against this law of ban on night shift to women employees or in favour of the law and want to implement it immediately?

I request all to participate in this topic and then we can come to a conclusion that this rule is being implemented just for political stunt or really the government is concerned about women employees?

From India, Bangalore
Hi All
I strongly agree with the Equality of Men & Women. Pls note that the Labour Ministers notification was banning women employment only in certain sectors like Hotel, Spa's, Resorts and not in IT / ITES industries. I do not think the govt will implement it. They would be in deep trouble if they go ahead in implementing.

From India, Bangalore
Hi All,
Now the Ban on night shifts for women employees is becoming a hot topic in Karnataka. You can find a article written in Deccan Herald Newspaper, on this topic, which is attached here. Even National Commission of Women, Chairperson Ms.Girija Vyas, has taken this issue seriously and told that, the commission is going to fight against this amendment on the basis of constitutional right of Equality of Life. You can find some more interesting articles on this topic published by the same newspaper.

From India, Bangalore

Attached Files
File Type: pdf dh_article1_186.pdf (23.6 KB, 76 views)
File Type: pdf dh_article_208.pdf (286.4 KB, 63 views)

Hi All,
After a serious protests from women organisations and other agencies, the Karnataka government has decided not to notify the amendment on Ban on Night shift for women employees. Also it has announced that, it will take necessary steps to delete the section which says about prohibiting the women working in night shifts permanently.

From India, Bangalore
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