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As a result of the recent tragedies at factories in Karachi and Lahore, there has been much discourse regarding the legal obligations of both factory owners and the government in protecting the safety of the work force.

Here are some of the main labour laws covering factory employees:

  1. Occupational Health Safety: The Factory Act of 1935 covers the occupational health and safety of employees; Chapter 3 of the law lists all risk arrangements that must be made to safeguard against hazards such as fire, dangerous fumes and the required tests to determine the safety of the building, machinery and manufacturing processes. Provincial governments are required to appoint inspectors to check the specified arrangements at the factories.
  2. Social Security: The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance of 1965 requires factory owners to provide coverage to employees for a number of circumstances including sickness, death, medical care (for self and dependents), injury, disability pension and gratuity and iddat. Every province has its own institution to ensure compliance with this ordinance: Balochistan Employees Social Security Institution, Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, Punjab Employees Social Security Institution, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees Social Security Institution.
  3. Welfare: According to Worker’s Welfare Fund Ordinance of 1971, every industrial establishment is required to contribute to a Worker’s Welfare Fund that provides welfare measures such as death grants and provision of low cost residential accommodation, health and education facilities. All industrial workers are eligible for benefits under the Ordinance even if their organisation is not contributing to the Fund.
  4. Old Age Benefits and Life Insurance: The Employees’ Old Age Benefit Act of 1976, regulated by the Employees’ Old Age Benefits Institution serves to provide a post-retirement pension to workers or surviving family members. Additionally, the West Pakistan Industrial and Commercial Employment (Standing Orders) Ordinance of 1968 mandates all employers to have their permanent workers insured against natural death, disability and injury.

– Sadya Siddiqui
The writer is an HR and branding consultant and can be contacted via LinkedIn.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 23, 2012.