The Indian government might soon sanction companies to go ahead with a four-day workweek. The Union Ministry of Labor and Employment is working on new labor codes which will make way for a three-day weekend but will keep the working hours at 48 hours a week, which means employees might be subject to long days.
The weekly 48-hour work limit will stay but employers will be able to deploy people on four, 12-hour workdays per week; or five, around 10-hour days; or six, eight-hour days, labour secretary Apurva Chandra told reporters on Monday.
“We are not forcing employees or employers. It gives flexibility. It’s an enabling provision in sync with the changing work culture,” Chandra said.
A survey conducted in 2020 showed that employees feel a four-day workweek concept is at least five years away in India. Especially, given that employees, in many cases, are made to work beyond five days a week currently.
In India, employees work way exceeds 48 hours a week – crossing the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) norms of working. According to the labor standards. “the general standard is 48 regular hours of work per week, with a maximum of eight hours per day.” says the ILO website.
Once the new labor code is in place, experts said employers will have the freedom to choose to have 8 to 12 hours workdays, based on demand, industry, and location.
Many employees are likely to be thrilled with the possibility of spending extra time on leisure activities and recover effectively from their weekly pressures.
Companies can also benefit from lower office rental costs and more energized and productive staff.
However, some experts say that this may lead to a day’s work converting into two shifts instead of three and reduce employment opportunities.
“Up to 12 hours of work plus commute time for four and five days, will be taxing on workers, especially in factory settings. The work-life balance may get impacted, “said K.R. Shyam Sundar, a labor economist.