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Employment Law In The Fashion Industry

Employment Nature & Agreement

Employment law is a branch of the law that deals with the relationship between employers and workers, including the responsibilities that employers might demand of them and the rights that workers have at work. The legalities of self-employed job are also covered by employment law.

It is a synthesis of several different types of laws, including Contract Law, Employment Law, Consumer Protection Law, and, most significantly, Intellectual Property Law, which can be viewed as the cornerstone of Fashion Law. Laws were introduced to preserve the industry's legal, and notably IP portfolio, and to govern every stage of a garment's life cycle, from the yarn to the shop windows, as is the case with any field that enjoys the kind of economic expansion that the fashion industry did.

People are aware of instances of design infringement and copying, but as people become more aware of intellectual property regulations, IP producers who previously felt helpless in the face of a massive black market for counterfeit goods are now more vigilant. It has now compelled both designers and manufacturers to recognise their legal rights and take the appropriate actions to safeguard their interests.

There are four layers to the fashion industry: the manufacturing of raw materials, primarily fibres and textiles but also leather and fur; the creation of fashion goods by designers, manufacturers, contractors, and others; retail sales; and various forms of advertising and marketing. The growth of technology and the capitalist system brought to competitiveness in the industry.

While the first goal of clothes was a need or requirement, fashion gradually became a commercial good that was diversified, dynamic, and worldwide. Fashion had evolved into a universal art phenomenon thanks to the designers, who created products in one nation, produced them in another, and then sold them all over the world. This product was typically sold at high end specialised stores with hefty price tags, while the apparel line was sold in retail stores at lesser costs.

It was divided into high fashion and apparel, both developed by professionals and marked with the creator's mark. A designer is constantly working to transform the existing cloth into something more attractive due to constantly changing styles, trends, and customer demand, and as a result, there is always a risk of copycat. Duplication of their designs is a major worry for designer firms like Celine, Gucci, Dior, and others.

Although clients gain from the cheaper prices on knockoff goods, the brand suffers from a decline in sales of the original designs. Although there are regulations in place to prevent such copying or passing off, they are not sufficient in the current market environment to effectively safeguard such designs. The adaptability of the product line, the ability to meet consumer demand, cultural change, and popular tastes are additional aspects that cause considerable disagreement in the otherwise harmonious process of producing clothing.

The fashion business is not just concerned with designs but also with all of the processes involved in creating a finished product; marketers, photographers, fitting models, and runway models all have specific rights that call for much discussion and consideration. The varying pricing structures for raw materials like textiles and other raw materials made from such materials, the cost of labour in other countries, and the thin line between creating a piece of clothing and producing fashion necessitate ongoing attention and advancement the study attempts to examine the much debated subject of uniformity and the strengthening of rules pertaining to the fashion industry.

Applicable Laws (Labour Codes and Human Rights)

While workers in the fashion business are protected by standard labour laws and workplace rules in general, there may be some rights that are specific to the sector.

According to the Labour Codes, 2020, a "person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of typical employer-employee relationship" is referred to as a "gig worker." These regulations would be very advantageous for gig workers, freelancers, and other occupations that fall beyond the ambit of traditional employee relations.

Gig workers were given "social security" under the Code of Social Security 2020, which is defined in the Act as "the measures of protection supplied to employees, unorganised workers, gig workers, and platform workers to ensure that they have access to health care and to offer financial security, especially in circumstances of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work accident, maternity, or death of a breadwinner, through the rights granted to them and the programmes created under this Code.

The gig workers are given the following benefits under the Act, including:
  1. Disability and life insurance
  2. Insurance for accidents
  3. Relief for pregnant women's needs
  4. Protection from old age
  5. Daycare
  6. Or any other government-provided benefit or protection plans.

The LGBTQ+ community should have special programmes available since they are a vital component of both society and the fashion community, as much as the government appreciates such facilities. When necessary, fathers working in the industry may be given paternity leaves and other relevant perks.

The new labour laws have come into effect, and they apply to every business, including the fashion industry. The social security benefits and protections for gig, contract, and platform employees were the centrepiece of the labour reforms. Gig workers fall mostly into the category of employees who do not fall within the usual definition of the employee-employer relationship. For e.g. Journalists, freelancers, and writers who work in the fashion sector.

The advantages would include things like health insurance, maternity benefits, senior citizen benefits, accident insurance, and many others. Recognizing gig workers would improve job variety and aspects in the fashion industry. In the Union Budget for 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reassured gig workers on their social security.

'Rural areas' knowledge of IP rights:

The property of "intellect", unique creative work, and artists are protected by intellectual property rights from future infringements. India has a strong heritage and handloom industry, but there is less awareness in the rural areas, where artisans are frequently forced to sell their original creations to the major fashion industries. These artisans' moral rights ought to be upheld and supported in this situation. To raise understanding of the intellectual property rights of small-scale companies, numerous customary government training and seminars are available.

If small businesses are coerced into using such market techniques, it is imperative to shield them from future protracted legal fights.

'Performers' moral rights:

Although the fashion business is not new to modelling and fashion shows, little is known about their moral rights as performers. The performer's moral rights are discussed in Section 38B of the Copyrights Act of 1957. To "restrain or claim damage in respect of any distortion, mutilation, or other change of his performance that would be damaging to his reputation," according to Section 38B(b).

Models should have moral rights over their "performance" in fashion shows because it's possible that, during broadcast, the models' ramp walk or other performance will be changed or modified. The term "artist" applies to fashion models.

"Performer" is defined in Section 2(qq) of the Copyrights Act of 1957 as "an actor, singer, musician, dancer, acrobat, juggler, conjurer, snake charmer, person presenting a lecture, or any other person who makes a performance;"

Even though "any other individual who makes a performance" is mentioned in the definition, fashion models are not specifically mentioned as performers. Models in the fashion sectors fall within a broad definition of the performance.

Whether it is based on sex, identity, colour, religion, gender, ethnicity, or any other factor, you have the right to be free from all forms of industry-wide discrimination. With the passing of time, there has been a discernible shift in how people view beauty in the fashion industry, from plus-size models to the ethnic diversity in the fashion shows. Fashion industry workers, such as models, have a right to fair treatment in the workplace and equal access to opportunities.

Posh (Prevention Of Sexual Harassment)

Gender-based violence includes the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. It not only violates their human and constitutional rights, but also their self-respect, dignity, and self-esteem. Although it is not a recent phenomenon, the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace has undoubtedly come to light as a result of rapidly shifting workplace dynamics. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, governs this in India (POSH Act).

The Act shields women against sexual harassment at work. Additionally, it offers provisions for stopping and addressing sexual harassment claims. Sexual harassment affects every woman, regardless of whether she works in an industry with male bosses, coworkers, or owners; whether she works in the service industry with clients, customers, and senior employees; whether she attends college with male professors, students, or colleagues; or whether she maintains a home with male partners.

Employers are blatantly ignoring these practises, which have spread like wildfire. The women not only encounter sexual harassment in person, but also digitally. Although this term's exact definition has not been established anywhere, it was defined in the landmark case of Vishakha v. the State of Rajasthan (1997) .

The following list of inappropriate sexual behaviour is included in the definition of sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) as
  1. Physical contact and advances;
  2. A demand or request for sexual favours;
  3. Sexually-colored remarks;
  4. Showing pornography; and
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual.

Rights of Fashion Models, Photographers, Designers, and other stakeholders

The topic of fundamental human rights in fashion modelling is vast because it encompasses everything from the freedom from discrimination to the right to privacy. The usage of models' private photos without their permission is not intended.

Every model has the legal right to privacy, which essentially means that they shouldn't be the target of public shaming.

Models are allowed to bring slander claims in court.

A US non-profit organisation called Model Alliance passed the MODELS BILL OF RIGHTS, which outlines a number of rights that models are entitled to.

These rights include:
  • Professionalism is a right for models.
  • Every Agency should work to ensure the provision of a private changing area to which photographers are not granted access.
  • It also provides for strict penalties meted out to fashion designers who sexually harass, assault, or rape their models.
  • Models have the right to transparent accounting practises, control of their careers, and negotiable commissions.
  • It also caters for special provisions for models under the age of 18.

Fashion would be meaningless without images. We must educate photographers about their rights in order to prevent exploitation of their work because they play such an important part in the fashion business.

The photographer has the freedom to create their work however they want, to modify it, and to publish it anywhere they like. Photographers have the option of registering their work's copyright. Although it is not required, it is advised because the photograph's copyright is activated as soon as it starts to move.

After a design is registered, a designer has certain rights as both a designer and an additional stakeholder:
  • The right to use a registered design exclusively and the right to prevent infringement on the design

FDCI/Fashion Council Regulations

A non-profit organisation, the Fashion Design Council of India, promotes the Indian fashion industry and seeks to secure its long-term success. It supports and encourages its 400+ members, who embody the pinnacle of Indian fashion. Among them are companies, educational organisations, and designers of clothing and accessories.

The fashion industry still has a glaring absence of laws and regulations while having significant environmental and social impacts.Growing trends can be seen in sustainable fashion. More and more buyers are thinking about how their purchases will affect society and the environment.

In response, businesses are expanding their selection of environmentally friendly clothes and working to guarantee that ethical manufacturing methods are implemented throughout their supply chains.

GOTS certified cotton and Fair trade are two examples of sustainability certifications that ethical brands can use to support their sustainability claims.

But is this reliance on customer pressure and brands' voluntarily taking action suffice? Or are stricter rules and laws required in order to hold the fashion sector accountable?

We examine the significance of the role that governments can play in the fashion sector and look at some of the new laws that have been proposed.

At the turn of the 20th century, did the clothing business transition to fashion? Considering the 1990s, has fashion changed? Maybe there's a new fad that's come out? A growing number of companies and websites with an ethical bent have developed at the beginning of the twenty-first century, highlighting the effects of fashion on the environment and labour rights. Fashion has also received more scholarly attention.

Not completely gone, but changed, is the fashion industry. The future holds yet another important change. Western fashion will need to successfully acclimatise to new global constraints even though it hasn't yet perished.

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