Women stitching apparels at homes for companies will now be entitled for employees’ provident fund (EPF)!
The honourable Supreme Court, in a landmark decision for various industries as well as workers, has said that women stitching garments at home for a company are entitled for EPF dues.
The court held that ‘merely because the women workers were permitted to do the work offsite would not take away their status as employees’.
Experts believe that this decision may force the Union and state governments to review the present EPF law to cover the entire workforce in India.
Majority of Indian garment factories don’t have such a system where they offer work to workers for home, so the decision may not have any impact on apparel factories.
Even traditional hand work, which is forte of some villages or clusters, is also outsourced through contractors so this decision is not supposed to have impact on most of the Indian garment factories.
The Bench of Justices Abhay Manohar Sapre and Indu Malhotra ordered Godavari Garments Limited (set up as a subsidiary of Marathwada Development Corporation of the Maharashtra Government), to deposit the provident fund dues of the women workers within one month.
The decision came on a PF notice issued in 1991 to a subsidiary company of the state government to deposit Rs. 15.97 lakh as the provident fund dues of the women workers for the period from November 1979 to February 1991.
The company had set up the apparel industry to provide gainful employment to women from the economically weaker sections of the society possessing skills in stitching and tailoring. It provided the women with cut fabric, trims etc. to make apparels at their own homes on their own stitching machines. The Court declared them as workers of the company since they were paid wages on per piece basis for the services rendered.
The company (producing apparels) that was ordered by the court to deposit the PF dues dating back to 1979 within one month, to the women workers, is not a private company but one set up by the Maharashtra state government.