The New Indian Working Hour Policy Came into Effect from 1st July 2022.
In the present modern world, working hour plays a crucial role in determining the economic lifeline of the nation. It also showcases its approach towards its citizens who are the pillars of the future pathway. Whatever the intensives may be, the object is to ensure one can maintain a balanced life. While stating the above, the question as to if the new Indian working hours policy is pro bono or not is to be emphasized.
Working Hours for Indians before the Policy
For over a decade or so, the Indian government has been adhering to the factories act 1948 and other similar specific acts which added on with time intending to restrict exploitation, oppression, or protect humankind. Section 51 of the factories act specifies that every adult(18 years) cannot work more than 48 hours a week and not more than 9 hours a day. The spread over time should not be more than 10-1/2 hours as per sections 54-56,59. As per the mines Act, no person is allowed to work more than 10 hours of dayparting overtime work. The beedi and cigar workers act 1966 states a maximum of 10 hours of overtime in a day and 54 hours a week.
Of these acts, emphasis is to be given to the factories act as it covers more than half of the working sector of the Indian economy. It can also be well observed that whatever the industry may be minimum of 8 or 9 hours and maximum with overtime with 10 hours as daily working hours is prescribed considering the humankind.
The New Indian Working Hour Policy
The Indian labour code has undergone a head-fast turnaround with four code series from 2019-2020. Establishing uniform civility in the labour law to reduce the complexity of the existing labour code filled in with regulation and compliances, corroded with central and state laws and other laws enclosed within it. By passing these codes, the Center emphasizes these changes mainly in wages, industrial relations, social security, occupational health, and safe working conditions. The centre had been planning to implement a series of policies from July 1st, 2022. one of them is the increase in working hours(from 8-12 hours). Even though not yet finalized. Once implemented, the entire industry and sector would undergo tremendous changes. While the central government has passed the legislation, it is upon the states to implement it. The claim is that the policies would be adequately implemented by the end of year 2023. However, many state governments have not yet drafted or finalized them.
Currently, the working hours are governed by the factories act 1948 nationwide. With the implementation of new codes, the working hours will be capped to 12 hours daily and 48 hours weekly. So far 23 states predominantly north Indian states have finalized drafts based on the 4 codes whereas not much response had been observed from south Indian states which are yet to be discovered.
An interesting fact is that three states M.P, Gujarat and UP had earlier (2016-17)formulated rules to increase the working hours; the only objection it faced was that it was in contrast with the factories act of 1948. With the new codes, these states can move forward in full swing without concerning with propaganda that working hours were raised to face the ill facets during the pandemic.
Concerning the southern Indian states, will the state be inclined to increase the working hours is still a dilemma. On one side states like Kerala, which enjoys communist governance are against labour exploitation and have a history of revolution in different periods regarding labourers. At the same time recent talks on increasing the shift hours to 12 hours to deal with issues of KSRTC to make its end meet threatens the fundamental objective of the ruling government so potential change is inevitable.
Above all the claims, the naked fact is that almost all employees in most states undergo overtime work, and most are denied the prescribed benefits. So the work hour policy is a mask just to exploit the workers. To defend these claims the government tries to bring focus on the added holidays. that is if an employee works from Monday to Thursday for prescribed hours then the following 3 days would be a holiday.
The other awaiting drawback is the rise in contractual density was well observed in these states laws become dilute but remain suspended. The effect of implementing such a law across developed and underdeveloped regions makes working conditions horrible. The practicality of implementation or guidelines of how it would work or how hours get divided remains undisclosed retaining its secrecy.
Around the Globe: Long Working Hours and their Effects
Many Asians as well as a few western countries around the globe had increased their working hours for a long. Of the Asian countries, Japan is known for its long working hours. despite being developed, the country simultaneously manages long work hours and part-time work in almost all sectors. During the survey conducted between 1994 and 1997, an increase in working hours policy was put forward by various countries. It was found that in Japanese society long working hours were a common scenario and so is the death caused by it. Japanese call it ” korashi”, meaning “death from overwork.”
the most productive youth of the Japanese pass away young due to cardiovascular causes. Studies based on Japanese compensation claims show that the victims are exposed to prolonged working hours which ultimately results in death. On the estimated relationship between long work hours and death, a hypothesis is that prolonged work hours led to an increase in alcohol consumption, addiction to smoking, increase in body mass, depression, and many others. Prolonged exposure to such increases anxiety, strain, irritability fatigue and propensity towards obesity, and lack of physical exercise. When a similar study was conducted in Canada people felt stressed due to the time crunch while juggling work, family, and personal responsibility. A similar trend of health issues can be found in them mainly due to prolonged working hours. A similar data analysis based on the early phase of the “korashi” effect was spotted.
The most productive youth of the Japanese pass away young due to cardiovascular causes. Studies based on Japanese compensation claims show that the victims are exposed to prolonged working hours which ultimately results in death. On the estimated relationship between long work hours and death, a hypothesis is that prolonged work hours led to an increase in alcohol consumption, addiction to smoking, increase in body mass, depression, and many others. Prolonged exposure to such increases anxiety, strain, irritability fatigue and propensity towards obesity, and lack of physical exercise. When a similar study was conducted in Canada people felt stressed due to the time crunch while juggling work, family, and personal responsibility. A similar trend of health issues can be found in them mainly due to prolonged working hours. A similar data analysis based on the early phase of the “korashi” effect was spotted.
While analyzing the said countries from the Indian view one can see both are developed countries with different types of government systems i.e. constitutional monarchy system whereas India is democratic with different cultures and ethics.at present even if a prescribed hour is 8 spread over is common so if 12 hours is implemented the situation is unimaginable.
Early Indian women labourers worked mainly in mines factories and mines. Observing the history, the prolonged working hours and later amendments are well displayed. Then Act supported work early from dawn to late at night. The only prosperous part of the Act was that it abided by equality between both genders regarding work hours. Here the animosity of the then society faced by women should never be begotten. Even if the latter Act reduced the period to 13 hours with ½ hours break, the question as to what prolonged mental and physical torture one was subject to cannot be imagined.
The then Act which made night shifts applicable to women repealed with the Act of 1919. This decision was made with adherence to the international labour convention 1919 The commission formed in 1930 reduced working hours to 8-9 hours which was later passed and is still followed.
Considering the new policy thought as to whether we are going back to the colonial era or leaping forward is triggered here. For a long period, women in India were considered insufficient due to a lack of literacy and inefficiency but with time they became prime sponsors of innovation with their achieved growth. The new policy is pushing them to a dead end. It acts as a hidden venom cornering the working population.
As Indian society is slow phased, the patriarchal society pushes women to the burden of household work, early marriage, and childbirth above all society does not train a child to become independent as in western culture but dependent on parents until becoming an adult and self-earner. Even though the concept had changed gradually around the globe women’s role in parenting cannot be exempted.
Mothers play a crucial role in the character formation and intellectual growth of a child to a great extent. While working women in Canada prefer part-time jobs as they could not juggle time between family and work, women in India could not do the same as they are paid less compared to full-time jobs. Even if the approach towards part-time jobs is changing, breaking the shell takes time. Health issues like prolonged back pain, anxiety disorder, and high blood pressure are common in modern working women facing long working hours. Many are forced to retreat due to unfavorable conditions.
Irrespective of gender addiction to narcotics to withstand the prolonged working hours is also being reported among the working class of India. Even if the proposed code favours women the question as to what extent its implementation is questioned by many lay paper-tigers. The public sector may be allied with government norms but to the private sector it may not be the same it’s one of the sectors undergoing mental stress. with the restriction on trade unions to a certain extent, the new policy would favour too makes a stagnant condition for the workers. Considering a private sector employee for him new policy would only add up a headache as he had already run up to the proposed clock hours. he has a limited voice as most of the private sector trade union are in a hybernative state at the hands of capitalist or stands blind. Where contrary to the private sector in the public sector there is job security along with a strong trade union. A bit of restriction is a blind gesture to them whereas silent despair for the unheard voice of the private sector.
As a flip of a coin one could support the limitation imposed upon trade unions citing the havoc created by them without meeting reasons at the same time this limitation closes the voice that’s to be heard so the right for the fundamental protest is tarnished here.
Will Reducing Working Hours Aid India ?
In 1954 the Swedish ministry of social affairs appointed a commission on the request of the trade union to reduce the working hour. Commission published its report on stages of how hours can be reduced from 48 to 40 hours. Supporters of the reduction in working hours viewed the cause to be so under political, social leisure, economic efficiency, and fair distribution of working hours. On implementing the commission it was made sure to make other necessary policies to balance the economic work spear eg only an average of 15 paid leave in the year etc…
With the reduced working hours efficiency in work, steady fall in injured workers, health improvement. Here the cooperation between employer and employee relation is inexplicable to meet the economic policy and to stand with a recurring wage structure.
In the Indian context, a reduction of working hours to the extent of Sweden is impossible. India is a developing country with overpopulation, many unemployed, underemployed, or struggling to make ends. Even if laws are made the employee and employer relation in sticking as per norm is distant. As the conditions get drastic more and more citizens aspire to migrate in search of better education, working environment, social security, etc…
The question as to why western society could reduce the working hours to this great extent is people’s survey towards norms and the inexplicable role of part-time jobs. In most western societies, part-time jobs had been part of the young generation to the older generation which is well paid and balances structured policy. It not only teaches the young generation wealth management but also self-independence and analytical skills.
Raising labor uniformly increases potential risk in sectors with utmost care. Consider swift workers like electrical power generate workers with 4 hours swift, increasing hours not only affects them individually but only raises potential hazard, loss, and efficiency. The major drawback of increasing hours among shift workers is the lack of duty staff which directly or indirectly makes impacts the person in charge of shift, here to the blame political-capitalist view toward profit. Long hours are directly proportional to a rise in contractual employment with affects the expected criteria. Short working hours always ensure the quality of the product. For this, the 1st step is improving the emperor-employee relationship followed by a willingness to abide by the norms of law, the most frequently violated part. Introducing part-time work to the educational curriculum with the aid of a responsible NGO.
Current-era modernization means reducing working hours. Our agenda should be in the time ahead not in retro. Short working hours reap better productivity. To attain such in India a well-revised vision and an action team are necessary. Instead of having a paper-tiger policy we need a policy that influences and can be implemented, not ones that woo capitalists but ones emphasizing the workers’ psychological well-being with the stress-free condition. ”One may recall that the great economist of the time, John Maynard Keynes, made a cheerful prediction during the economic depression that a three-hour workday would prevail for the generation of his grandchildren”.
This article is authored by Sarah Joseph, a student at Bharata Mata School of Legal Studies.
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