Indians- The Most Overworked Employees
As per the Factories Act 1948, every adult (a person who has completed 18 years of age) cannot work for more than 48 hours a week and not more than 9 hours a day. According to Section 51 of the Act, the spread over should not exceed 10–1/2 hours- the most underrated law of the country.
A report by International Labour Organization (ILO) reveals that Indians work for the longest hours yet paid the least compared with other developed countries. India stands fifth in the list with the most overworked employees. Countries that are ahead of India are Gambia, Mongolia, Maldives, and Qatar. In India, an average worker works for 48 hours a week. But these statistics work for the organized sector leaving out a huge lump of rural backward. If calculated right, the average Indian works for more than 52 hours a week, on ground level (including overtime). This doesn’t necessarily state gender equilibrium, men work for 52 hours a week whereas women work for 44 hours on average. Peeking at the salary structure, an average Indian is paid a minimum of 32,800 INR per month but these numbers do not include the informal sector, an average Indian worker is paid as low as 10,000 INR per month. This is the minimum wage of a regular worker in India, but if one is a contractual worker then their wages will be less than 7000 INR per month, while casual labour earns less than 5000 INR a month!
Why are these wages so low and how much of it is justified? If we take a look at the data from the past three decades, the value added by a worker to the economy is increased to 210% whereas the wages paid to the workers had hardly increased by 14%.
The Story of an Overworked Indian
The biggest irony of the country is that Indians are overworked while many are unemployed. This situation has driven worse with the outbreak of Covid, as many firms are now filtering old employees and hiring new on lower wages with the expected high working outcome. This technically means that a job supposed to be done by two to three people is now expected to be done by a single person. And if you are wondering more work for high wage, think again. India had the lowest statutory minimum wage of any country in the Asia Pacific region, except for Bangladesh as of 2019.
A typical life story of an Indian is- no play all work! People now have high demanding work schedules discarding leisure hours at worst. This has significantly squeezed the happiness factor across the country. Even if the worker is paid more, they are expected larger work demands and outcomes. Thus, it is evident that the job security in regards to the safety net has outpowered the wage gap. The Indian perspective on social work had too shift their way, now the giving and receiving ends of demands are overwhelm by the relationship of employee and employer. This has changed the course for whoever stands at the latter end of demands. Employees are asked for frequently increased outcomes in terms of working performances yet not much emphasis is laid on their incrementing wages.
Things get worse when we start talking about the informal sector, where even the security of a job is not certain. In the informal sector the working schedule forces employee to work productively in unfavourable working environments. What was happened to migrant workers during the epidemic shows us the truth of working alms in the informal sector. Surprisingly, the informal sectors account for 50% of the total GDP of the country. About 85-90% of labour engaged in the informal sector is not covered under labor legislation which means most of them are not given mandatory certificates such as offer letter, contract, guaranteed wages, health facilities, and insurances. To your amazement, this blurry and confusing sector holds approximately 85% of all working force! Thus talking about an ‘average Indian’, the informal sector recites the initial tale.
What can be done?
The culture of overwork gives the worker the ‘choice’ subjugation. A choice between work and personal life and if the person chooses personal life over work, the result is always terrifying. For such people, their working life is derailed and is seen as uncommitted. And women face a greater threat in this regard because the working schedule demands 24*7 availability, which might not be possible for a typical woman in India.
So, if we are really looking forward to addressing the issue, we need to know who is responsible. Is it the organization or you yourself? Today, we are living in a competitive world where everyone desires to participate in an unending race. People overwork themselves in order to prove themselves better than their colleagues, which means that it’s not entirely clients demand but an individual choice that drives workers to overwork themselves. Whereas the organizations should too work on their policies to ease the stress of the employees. Keeping this in mind, the Modi government is now considering some major changes in their labour policies. The government is planning to give flexibilities to the companies to have four to five working days.
“If daily working hours are increased, you will have to give the workers similar holidays also. There will be 5 or 4 working days if duty hours are increased. It will now be mutually agreed to by the employees and an employer as to what is appropriate for them,” said Apurva Chandra, Labour Secretary.
Thus, we can expect that soon by shifting the traditional norms and values of the ‘overwork culture’, India can prosper both economically as well as individually.