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Explained: A four day week? Here’s what India’s plan entails

4-day work week: The proposed new labour codes could provide companies with the flexibility of four working days in a week, even as the working hours limit of 48 hours for a week will remain "sacrosanct".

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: February 18, 2021 2:35:47 pm
Workers wearing protective masks at a call centre in Uttar Pradesh (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

As the government finalises the rules for the new labour codes, the Labour Ministry is now considering giving flexibility to companies to have four working days instead of five or six.

The proposal: The proposed new labour codes could provide companies with the flexibility of four working days in a week, even as the working hours limit of 48 hours for a week will remain “sacrosanct”, Labour and Employment Secretary Apurva Chandra said on Monday.

This implies that there will be longer working hours if the working days are reduced. For instance, a four working day week will have to meet the 48-hour weekly work hours, resulting in daily shifts of 12 hours, which will correspondingly reduce if there is five-day or six-day working week.

When and how will this be rolled out: The Ministry of Labour and Employment is likely to complete the process to finalise the rules for four labour codes soon. The provision of flexibility to have reduced working days of four days in the labour code rules will mean that companies will not require prior government nod to enact it.

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The Labour Secretary, however, clarified that having a reduced number of working days does not mean a cut in paid holidays. Therefore, when the new rules will provide flexibility of four working days, it would imply three paid holidays.

“It (working days) could come down below five. If it is four, then you have to provide three paid holidays…so if it has to be a seven day week, then it has to be divided into 4, 5 or 6 working days,” Chandra said.

The rulemaking process is already underway and likely to be completed in the coming week. “All stakeholders are also consulted in framing of rules. This ministry would soon be in a position to bring into force the four Codes, viz., Code on Wages, Industrial Relations, Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) and Social Security Codes,” Chandra had said.

The labour ministry had envisaged implementing the four labour codes from April 1 this year in one go. The ministry is in the final leg of amalgamating 44 central labour laws into four broad codes on wages, industrial relations, social security and OSH. The ministry wants to implement all four codes in one go.

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