India is considering four-day work weeks but with longer shifts

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India is considering four-day work weeks but with longer shifts
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  • The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment is working on new labour codes which will make way for a three-day weekend.
  • A survey conducted in 2020 showed that Indian employees feel a four-day workweek concept is at least five years away.
  • Especially given that employees are made to work beyond five days in a week in today’s corporate set-up.
The Indian government might soon allow companies to go ahead with a four-day work week. The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment is working on new labour 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.

“Companies will have to give three days’ of paid leaves and 12 hours of work per day to their employees with the consent of the workers. We are not forcing employees or employers. It gives flexibility. It’s an enabling provision in sync with the changing work culture. We have tried to make some changes. We have tried to give flexibility in working days,” said Labour and Employment Ministry Secretary Apurva Chandra.

A survey conducted in 2020 showed that employees feel a four-day work week concept is at least five years away in India. Especially, given that employees, in many cases, are made to work beyond five days in a week currently.

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In India, employees work way beyond 48 hours a week – crossing the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) norms of working. According to the labour standards. “the general standard is 48 regular hours of work per week, with a maximum of eight hours per day.” says the ILO website.

The changes will be a part of the new labour codes, whose draft rules are being formulated by the government. It will also provide free medical check-ups to workers through the Employees State Insurance Corporation, according to reports.

The four-day work week is not a new topic. It started off as a debate in Germany when the country’s largest trade union – IG Metall, called for a four-day week in 2020. And this, even when Germany already has the lowest working hours in a week at 34.2 hours.

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Then came Microsoft's experiment in 2019 in its Japan office, where productivity jumped by 40%, as a four-day week made for the perfect work-life balance. And it wasn’t just great for the employees; the number of pages printed was down, electricity consumption was a lot less as well.

A World Economic Forum survey of businesses that had implemented the policy showed that it can help companies “make savings of almost £92 billion (around 2% of total turnover) each year”.

But there are also challenges said the WEF survey, especially, in the service sector where four days might not be enough to meet consumer expectations and demands.

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