Govt Allows 4-Day Work Week For All Private Employees, But Shift Hours May Become Longer

Do you know what's the latest buzz in offices? If you are a working person, you must have heard about '4 day work week'. It's been all around the news since the government introduced new labor codes. On the surface, it sounds impressive for an employee who is having a hard time fulfilling his/her family duties. But do you know such a novel idea can also have negative implications? Let's dig deeper into it and find answers to queries like what's this and will it work.

Govt Allows 4-Day Work Week For All Private Employees, But Shift Hours May Become Longer

What is a '4 days work week'?

The debate around reducing the working hours of employees isn't a new one. That's all we have been doing since the beginning. During the 1890s, an average manufacturing worker worked 100 hours a week in the US. It has gradually come down to 35-40 hours there now. While in India it is still 48 hours a week.

Four day work week is all about reducing the workload on the employees to give them more free time to spend with family, to pursue a hobby, to learn new things, or to do anything they want. It conceptualizes 3 paid leaves in a week instead of the current 1 or 2. 

This can be easily misunderstood as 'Compressed work schedule' which is compressing the same amount of working hours into 4 days. For example, right now in India, we have 48 hours a week's limit on working hours. People generally work 8 hours for 6 days a week. If we keep the working hours fixed as 48 and reduce the number of days to 4, it will result in 12 hours X 4 days. Well, that's technically not what a four day work week means. Such a compressed work schedule is a failed idea and it leads to an unhealthy lifestyle among workers as they have to work 12 hours a day. A four days workweek is the one that has the same work hours per day but fewer workdays per week, reducing the overall working hours of an employee in a week to 32-36.

Now that we have clarity on what is a four-day workweek and what's not, let's have a look at its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros :

Less tired, relaxed, and motivated staff 

As the employees get ample amount of time for unwinding every week they are less likely to be stressed and will be more motivated to work.  Studies have shown them to be more loyal to the organization also. They will also have a happier life at home. 

Higher Productivity 

Overworked staff is likely to be less productive and even less creative than those who are fresh and well-rested. This is bound to boost the overall productivity of the workplace.  

According to the data from Organization for  Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the world's most productive country in terms of GDP per hour worked in Luxembourg and it has an average workweek of 29 hours. Not surprisingly, the last country on that list of 35 countries is Mexico and it has an average workweek of 41.2 hours, also the longest on the list.

Higher productivity is the reason why this debate around the world is even happening in the first place. (Hail Capitalism !) 

Gender Equality

As we know the state of women in our beloved country, they are the ones who carry the double burden of homes and offices on their backs. If a four-day work week is implemented in its true sense, it will be highly beneficial for women. Working women hardly get any time for themselves in the current conditions. If 4 day work week can be made possible, it will be highly rewarding to women's health and their performance at the workplace. It will help them compete with the men who have half the total workload (professional+ domestic) as them. 

Less Carbon Footprint 

If we commute to the office one less day in the week, it will save fuel for 2 one-way trips a week, 8 a month, 104 a year. Multiply this with the office-going population and you will see that it's a big impact.

Each individual's commute will be reduced by 1 day per week. That will surely reduce one's carbon footprint.

Less Operational Cost

The office buildings will have to bear one less day of electricity and other overhead costs per week. That's 20% less than a 5 day work week. 

That's a win-win situation I guess! 

Cons :

Expensive For Companies 

Companies will have to pay their employees the same amount of money for fewer work hours. While the productivity of employees may boost up but the overall expenses for the company are likely to rise also. Suppose some amount of work needs 20 days of work at a rate of 8 hrs per day. For a 5 day work week, it's 4 weeks' work. But for a 4 day work week, it's 5 weeks' work. This is a rise of 25% in the salary and overhead expenses.

Not  Applicable Across the Industries 

Many of the industries need to be actively operating 24X7. Such an idea is impractical for the company both operationally and financially. 

It Seems to be Far Fetched for Indian Scene 

In India, most of the primary and secondary sector companies still follow 6 day work week. Even many of the state governments follow 6 day work week in their offices, schools, Colleges, etc. For them, the transition to a 5 day work week first.  So it doesn't look like a near-future possibility for lots of Indian workers. 

Compressed Work Hours Are No Good

We have understood the difference between the 4 day work week and the compressed work hours. If companies implement the later in the guise of the former, it will have negative implications on the conditions of employees. All the benefits of a 4 day work week are based upon the reduction in the total work hours per week.

While we Indians seem to love the idea of a 3 days weekend off, but we have to understand that this is a possibility for a limited number of companies and their employees. Most of the time, even the most basic needs rights of the employees are not exercisable due to a lack of strict observance of labor code implementation. We need to first make sure that the laws are followed everywhere and no worker is forced to work in inhumane conditions. Then we can move on to more Nobel ideas like 4 days work week. Right now, this idea is only possible and practical for a handful of companies

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Startup times.