As per a report by Livemint, the Centre might be mulling a shorter 4-day work week albeit with longer shifts, labour secretary Apurva Chandra told reporters on Monday.
She, about the extended working hours, goes on to add that despite a 4-day work week, the weekly 48-hour work limit will stay. Employers can deploy people on different shifts like four, 12-hour workdays per week; or five, 10-hour days or at last six, eight-hour days.
“We are not forcing employees or employers. It gives flexibility. It’s an enabling provision in sync with the changing work culture,” Chandra said.
This provision will soon be a part of the labor code and once implemented, the employers won’t need to ask the government to shift from a 5-day workweek to a 4-day work week if the employees are ready for the same.
The employer that chooses the 4-day work week will need to oblige by a 3-day break before starting the new week. Also, employees will have to adjust to 8-10-hour working day; whatever their employer deems fit.
Many employees are likely to be thrilled with the possibility of getting to spend extra time on leisure activities and recover effectively from their weekly pressures.
The new proposal, as per the government, will also lower the office rental costs for employers and improve the productivity of the employees for good.
“It will benefit sectors such as information technology and shared services. In the banking and financial services industry, 20-30% people can use the long working hours template for four or five days and enjoy a longer break. Profiles like human resources and finance verticals can easily adopt such a practice faster,” said Kamal Karanth, co-founder of human resource firm Xpheno.
“It shall also benefit a new generation of workers who value ‘me time’ and would prefer working long hours for fewer days to get an extra off. Besides, foreign firms will be the first to adopt it as this will reduce their real estate expenditure at one end and improve productivity of workers on the other. The covid-19 work culture has given companies a proof of concept and its adoption won’t be tough,” said Karanth, a former managing director (India) of global staffing firm Kelly Services.
Rituparna Chakraborty, who is the executive vice-president and co-founder of the staffing company, TeamLease Services, said, “It’s not enforcement but an option. I believe labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing will adopt them. Imagine a company doing the same work in four days instead of five and the benefit of saving one day of operational cost—that’s a big positive”.
Meanwhile, some experts worry that the new opportunity might also reduce employment as a day’s work will convert into two shifts.
“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 labour economist.