Women may work overnight shifts at call centres in Haryana if employers prove they can ensure their safety, state officials said, refuting a report that said the practice had been banned outright.
Haryana generates a sizable chunk of the $5.2 billion that India earns every year from call centre work outsourced from the West, and the time difference with clients in Europe and the United States make the overnight shift the centres' busiest.
Most call centres in Haryana are located in Gurgaon, which borders New Delhi.
The Times of India reported on Tuesday that authorities in Haryana recently decided call centres must abide by a 1958 state law that prohibits women from working night shifts.
But Deputy Commissioner R P Bharadwaj, the top administrator of Gurgaon, denied the report. "There is no move by the administration to ban women working on overnight shifts," Bharadwaj said.
State Deputy Labour Commissioner M R Patlan said the government was only seeking to make sure call centres protect women who work at night by having them seek an annual exemption to the 1958 law. He said the move was designed to ensure the safety of female workers.
Gurgaon and its surrounding areas are notorious for crimes against women, Patlan said."The law requires (call centres) to provide transport, proper security and ensure that there is no sexual harassment of women workers," he said.