Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Nayantara N| The News Minute| December 3, 2013| 2.50 pm IST Recently, Karnataka MLA Krishna Byre Gowda posted a picture on Twitter, a copy of his work schedule on weekends! So what prompted him to post his schedule, “People kept asking me if I work on weekends, and why I wasn’t free for more appointments on weekends as I was anyway not working! People generally assume politicians don’t work anyway,” he says. According to his schedule, apart from serious work related appointments, it includes attending wedding receptions and Karnataka Rajyotsava day programmes. While some made of fun of it on the basis that attending functions did not count as work, for a politician, gracing certain events is part of their work. Krishna Byre Gowda was hounded about how much work he does on weekends, but the focus is not the politician’s schedule, but a need to look at the larger picture. There arises a basic question -What is the necessity to work even on weekends? Why are certain employees compelled to work on weekends? Section 51 of Indian Labour Laws require workers to work not more than 48 hours per week, 9 hours a day. Furthermore, every worker is entitled to a compulsory weekly off which is Sunday. In an event of the employee working on a Sunday, it should be compensated with any other day of the week. Byre Krishna Gowda is not just a one off case. One often hears people complaining of working on holidays, staying back beyond the usual hours etc. Senior employees in India are expected to clock in more numbers of hours than usual, and defiance of this unwritten, unspoken rule is frowned upon. Sadly, this has become a well-accepted culture and very few question it. Should Indian work force be allowed to work even on weekends? Here’s a study that may explain what happens when one works for long hours. According to an American study published in the Forbes, long working hours leads to combination of stress, raised blood pressure and unhealthy food habits which may cause serious health problems in later years. It also said that spending more hours resulted in “40 to 80 percent greater chance of heart disease compared to an eight hour work day.” Another study shows that longer hours decreases work output. Besides, even social life takes a hit. It does not allow the individual to indulge in any other leisure activity. Parental responsibilities maybe affected. Needless to say, none of the factors add up to form a favourable argument. But in July Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim had a different proposition on work culture. He proposed a three day work week with 11 hour work shifts. He proposition was quickly backed by Richard Branson who too felt that this proposition “could work” if tried. While plenty of studies show that a forty hour week is ideal, none of them are presently available in Carlos’s proposition. Harish Bijoor, CEO at Harish Bijoor Consults Inc is also in agreement with Carlos idea. “With a balance of one spouse opting for regular job and another opting for three-four day workweek, the family should be able to succeed. In fact, the kids would be delighted to see their father, rather than the stereotypical appearance of the mother when they come home.” He insists on spending quality time versus quantity time with both family and work. However, he too is of the opinion that the “nasty” practice of staying back after work or working on Sundays must end in India. “There lies two problems, a) employees idle away their time which results in putting those extra hours to finish work or b) employers often stack a pile of work at their sub-ordinates desk almost near the end of the day. So employees are forced to stay back.” There are bad bosses in India who expect employees to log in longer hours and we must stick to working hours, he says. He suggests that giving the employees a day’s notice or at least when they begin their day of what is expected of them would solve the problem. Unless politicians like Krishna Byre Gowda or leaders who people look up to end this erroneous work culture, the trend will soon be followed by the younger generation. Many in India go by the policy ‘Work is worship’. With the fine distinction between work and personal life a little blurry, faster and a smarter pace of working and learning to know where to draw the line could make the difference in maintaining a better work-life balance.

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