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India: Employee rights

Original and updating author: Kochhar & Co


  • In factories, employees' normal working hours must not generally exceed nine hours a day and 48 hours a week. Similar limits apply, at the level of individual states, in shops and commercial establishments. Matters such as overtime work and night work are subject to various rules and restrictions. (See Hours of work)
  • Employees in factories and shops and commercial establishments are generally entitled to daily rest breaks - usually after five hours' work - and a weekly rest day. (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • Employees are entitled to paid annual leave, with a statutory minimum of 18 days in factories and 12 to 21 days (varying from state to state) in shops and commercial establishments. (See Annual leave)
  • Employees are entitled to a paid day off on three national public holidays per year, and generally on seven state-specific "festival holidays". (See Public holidays)
  • Pregnant employees are generally entitled to maternity leave on full pay for up to 26 weeks in respect of the birth of their first two children and up to 12 weeks for each subsequent birth. (See Maternity and pregnancy rights)
  • Employees have no statutory entitlement to parental leave, paternity leave or leave to care for sick family members, although in some cases they are entitled to "casual leave" for personal reasons. (See Other leave)
  • Employment legislation generally applies to part-time employees in the same way as it does to full-time employees. (See Part-time workers)
  • Fixed-term contracts may be used for work requirements of a time-limited nature, and their duration must be reasonable. Employment legislation generally applies to employees on fixed-term contracts in the same way as it does to employees on open-ended contracts, although with some exceptions. (See Fixed-term workers)
  • Special legislation, dealing with matters such as wages, governs the use of "contract labour", whereby a contractor employs "workmen" to carry out work in (or in connection with) the establishment of a principal employer, under a contract between the contractor and the principal employer. (See Contract labour)
  • Special legislation, dealing with matters such as wages, applies to "inter-state migrant workmen" - that is, workers recruited by or through a contractor in one state of India for employment at the establishment of a principal employer in another state. (See Inter-state migrant workers)
  • In business transfers, employees' entitlements and the obligations of the transferor and transferee depend on the status of the employees, with those defined as "workmen" receiving special protection. (See Transfers of undertakings)
  • In the event of an employer's insolvency, the pay-related claims of employees classified as "workmen" receive preferential treatment over most other creditors, up to a limit. (See Insolvency of employer)
  • An employer that intends to close down an undertaking employing more than a certain number of employees defined as "workmen" must notify the public labour authorities, and in some cases obtain their permission, and provide notice and compensation to the workmen concerned. (See Closure of undertakings)
  • Disciplinary offences, sanctions and procedures are regulated by binding "standing orders" in certain establishments. (See Grievance and disciplinary procedures)
  • Employers are required to have in place a set of binding "standing orders" in certain establishments, dealing with specified employment conditions and subject to minimum standards. (See Standing orders)
  • Legislation on the protection of personal information applies in the employment context. (See Data and privacy protection)