After the Maharashtra government announced five-day working week for most of its employees from February 29, a social worker and businessman from Solapur on Friday moved the Bombay High Court challenging the state’s decision on the ground that it discriminates among government employees.
Solapur resident Mahesh Gadekar filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to quash the circular issued by the state on February 24.
The circular had stated that from February 29, state employees will have to pitch in for 45 extra minutes on five working days but will get two offs, instead of one, every week.
Gadekar also sought the court to direct the government to audit pending works of each department in a time-bound manner before the 5-day week policy is implemented.
There are over 20 lakh employees in government, semi-government and local bodies in the state.
The new rule does not apply to offices covered under factory rules, industrial disputes Act and those providing essential services like police, fire brigade, government colleges as well as the sanitation department.
The petition, filed through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, stated that while in Mumbai, all government offices, including BMC, will follow the new working hours, it will not apply to those that provide essential services, like hospitals, dispensaries, police, jails, fire brigade and water supply among others.
It added that while government employees working six days a week have not been able to complete pending works, a 5-day week will aggravate the situation.
The plea stated, “Already, government employees get many holidays, half days, sick leaves, etc. They have half-an-hour lunch break, which turns into one hour. Later in the evening, they have tea break. So, there is no need to have holiday on every Saturday, because they already have holidays on every alternate Saturday.”
It added that the government is setting a bad precedent, as there will be no official available to contact, despite online services being available 24 hours. The high court will hear the plea on March 5.
The five-day work week is already applicable for all central government employees in Maharashtra.
States like Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal also have a five-day work week.
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