Law Firm in India

Work Hours and Office Timing in India

Office timings & hours in India are governed by an ILO convention, the Factories Act 1948 & respective Shop & Establishments Acts of states. Overtime work is also governed by different statutes.

Post pandemic, employees are becoming more sensitive about their office working hours, especially in the private sector. Work-life balance and mental health have taken priority over everything else. Employees are now happy to sacrifice higher remuneration for better balance and work culture. Thus, it is now essential that even employers and large corporate houses are aware of laws governing their office timings and, in some cases, overtime pay and work. It is imperative to be cognizant of this fact to avoid potential liabilities from employees.


Working hours – ILO

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is a United Nations (UN) body that seeks to advance social and economic justice by setting international labour standards. India was a founding member of the ILO in 1919 and has been a permanent member since 1922. For working hours, ILO made the following conventions:

Hours of Work (Industry) Convention 1919

  • This convention sets a general standard of working hours not exceeding beyond 48 hours in a week, with a maximum of 8 hours per day.
  • This is applicable to India as it was ratified.


Hours of Work (Commerce & Offices) Convention 1930

  • More inclined towards the private sector, this convention also set the same working hours as above.
  • However, India has not ratified this convention and, hence, is not bound by it. Only a handful of nations have ratified it and apply it in their private sectors.


Working hours in India under different statutes


Multiple statutes state different working hours, according to industry standards. Some of these are mentioned below:


The Factories Act 1948

  • Daily hours under the Factories Act cannot exceed nine hours in any day, according to Section 54.
  • Every worker is entitled to an interval break of at least half an hour and not more than 5 hours of work should pass before such interval.
  • No worker under the Act shall be required to work for more than 48 hours in any week, according to Section 51.
  • Section 59 provides for overtime compensation in case any worker exceeds the weekly or daily limit of work specified in the Act.


The Mines Act 1952

  • No person in a mine is required to work for more than 10 hours in any day, inclusive of overtime.
  • Key sections are 28 & 30.


The Minimum Wages Act 1948

  • Wages paid for overtime must be double the actual rate for any hour, or part of an hour, of actual work undertaken in excess of the prescribed 9 hours or 48 hours per week.


Shop & Establishments Act of States/UTs

  • Daily working hours range from 8-10 hours.
  • Weekly hours cannot exceed 48 hours.
  • Weekly limit capped at 50-60 hours, including overtime.
  • No continuous work with a 30 minute interval for more than 5 hours.


New Labour Codes in India

Currently, working hours and leave are governed by the Factories Act 1948, at the central level and the relevant Shops & Establishment Act at the state level. The government, through the new codes, sought to streamline the working hours for factory workers and the service industry in tandem. The key elements of this change are as follows:

  • New codes applicable to every industry.
  • State governments can regulate their rules but the draft central rules suggest that states are aligned with the center on aspects of working hours.
  • New rules apply only to employees categorized as ‘workers’.
  • Managerial, administrative and supervisory staff are still to be governed by the Shops & Establishment statutes of the state.
  • Workers to be understood as ‘workers’ defined under the Factories Act, but the changes are not solely applicable only to ‘blue collar’ workers.
  • Every ‘individual contributor’ will also qualify as a ‘worker’ under the new Labor Codes, irrespective of their working roles.

 

A software developer, for example, who is an individual contributor with no managerial, administrative and supervisory duties and a CTC of INR 20 Lakh p.a. would likely be considered as a worker under the new Labour Codes. Since, the law does not restrict the definition of workers to factories anymore, it would be considered as applicable to a software development company as well.

 

 
   

Change in working hours

The new Labour Codes brought the following changes in the working hours in India:

  • Weekly and daily working hours capped at 48 hours and 12 hours, respectively.
  • 4-day work week will be feasible; 12 hour working day for each of the 4 days of the week.
  • Maximum overtime hours for workers increased from 50 hours in the Factories Act to 125 hours through the new codes.
  • 4-day work week may play out as a ‘double-edged sword’ as it could lead to longer weekend but extremely hectic weekdays.
  • The overtime policy also allows employers to contact workers on weekends, as per requirement.
  • Overtime work may lead to additional earning but will result in working on weekends and extra-long on normal workdays.

 
Overtime work – what is legal?

  • Every state in India has its own overtime rules and policy set out in the state’s Shops & Establishment Act.
  • This Act is applicable to all managerial and non-managerial positions.
  • Overtime rules state that employees have to be provided a 30 minute break in between the official working hours.
  • The entire working day must be adhered to in such a manner that no work for a continued period of 5 hours takes place without an interval.
  • Maximum overtime permissible under the Factories Act is one hour per day with the total day, inclusive of rest intervals, spread over not more than 12 hours.
  • Other conditions on the legalities of overtime is enumerated under Section 64(4) of the Factories Act 1948.

 

When does ‘extra work’ transcend protocol?

Often, in order to impress our bosses or out of fear of speaking up, we tend to take more responsibilities than we can handle. You know your capacity and capabilities best and, hence, should communicate to your supervisor when you think that added tasks or work hours are making you and your output suffer. But how do we make this distinction? Below are some points that may help:

Primary responsibilities are suffering

  • Keep in mind your primary responsibilities – remember what work you were hired for.
  • If added tasks or extra work hours due to those tasks is causing a dip in your primary responsibilities, it is time to take a step back.
  • If your core responsibilities will suffer and compromise your output in terms of delivering quality work – without any upside to the additional tasks hours you are putting in – decline additional work, even if it pays more.


No Exit Strategy

  • Do not take on tasks in which you invest hours without knowing how long you will have to invest in it.
  • Be a team player, but be fully cognizant of the facts of the additional work you may entail, including if it will hamper your core responsibilities.
  • Avoid open-ended arrangements as much as possible.


Non-contribution to Skillset, Growth & Network

  • Certain additional tasks beyond your realm of responsibilities can add to your skillset, knowledge and networking with important people. Such a task may put you ahead of the curve at the organisation.
  • However, mundane tasks that are beyond your certified job responsibilities can add to frustration and unnecessary workload.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of every additional task. Will it help in landing better assignments in the future? Will you be working with renowned professionals in the organisation? Is it something you see yourself pursuing, eventually? Will it help in a promotion?


Frequency of overtime

  • If you are regularly being held back at work beyond your designated office hours, despite your best efforts to remain efficient, you should recalibrate your responsibilities and tasks.
  • If you are regularly held back for working on someone else’s tasks, then again, you must figure a way out of it.
  • Know your rights regarding daily and weekly working hours. Regular breach of this is illegal on part of your employer. Every job has days where one is overworked and burdened, but this should not be a regular occurrence.
  • In case of overtime, ensure you are compensated accordingly. Even overtime has limits according to law and those should not be breached.


Breaching the weekly threshold regularly

  • In India, the Factories Act has set weekly working hours at not more than 48 hours per week.
  • Hectic weeks are part of a professional life and, sometimes, this limit may be breached. However, if this is a regular occurrence at your workplace, it needs addressing.
  • You can say ‘no’ if your work is regularly making you breach 48 hours per week and this can be brought to the notice of your employer in accordance with the law.

 

Conclusion: The need for a time & holiday policy

  • By having a well-drafted policy for time and holiday, it is ensured that the business runs smoothly and the employees have clarity on the policy.
  • Stick to your policy and adhere to it to ensure good output from your employees who know that you do not deviate from your word and value professionalism.
  • Outline the expected time of arrival and leaving the office, in addition to the time provided for rest/lunch. Explain the working of overtime so employees know that you value their extra time and effort.
  • A flexible leave policy helps employees address personal matters and take a downtime in terms of vacations.
  • A well-defined time policy sets a limit on the liberties that employees can take.
  • A policy helps hold those in violation accountable and builds strong work culture.

 

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