Labour Min Proposes to Increase Daily Working Hours from 9 to 12

12-hour work days could lead to stress, fatigue, and as a result, lack of productivity among workers.

2 min read
Photo for representative purpose.

In a draft notification, the Labour Ministry has proposed increasing the daily limit of working hours from 9 to 12, including one hour of rest. The draft rules notified for the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH & WC) also says that no worker should be required or allowed to work in an establishment for more than 48 hours in any week.

The proposal drafted by the Centre states, “The period of work of a worker shall be so arranged that inclusive of his intervals for rest, shall not spread over for more than twelve hours in a day.”

The notification further adds that the working period at a stretch shall not exceed five hours after which the worker gets an interval for at least half an hour.

The Centre has also introduced the concept of ‘Quarantine Leave’ on full wage that is to be granted by “the newspaper establishment on the certificate of the authorized medical practitioner designated as such under Section 42, for a period not exceeding twenty-one days or, in exceptional circumstances, thirty-days”.

12-Hour Working Days Draws Flak

The move has been criticised by multiple quarters, with the All India Trade Union Congress seeking the proposal be withdrawn immediately as the rules go against the terms of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention.

One of the key reasons for the proposal is to overcome shortage of labour. Increased hours could however, lead to stress, fatigue and as a result, lack of productivity among workers. The 12 hours does not take into account travelling to and from the workspace. This could mean, the individual spending an additional 2-3 hours on the road. 

Juggling multiple roles at home and the workplace, women are more likely to be at a disadvantage under the 12-hour working rule.

Working Hours: India vs the World

One can’t help but compare the working hours in India with the rest of the world in this situation, and as expected, the difference is stark. An employee in Germany, is expected to put in a total of 1,388 hours of work in a year. This comes down to just 28 hours a week. In New Zealand, employees work for 33 hours a week.

While employees in the US, Israel and Russia work for 34, 36 and 38 hours, respectively, in Sweden, Austria and Switzerland, employees work for an average of 32 hours a week.

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