Are We Ready For a 4 Day Work Week?

Although the concept of the new labour code is going to reduce the number of 5 or 6 working days to 4, but the number of 48 hours work per week is still going to stay.


Yogita Tulsiani, Co-founder, iXceed Solutions

There could soon be a 4-day work week for all industry segments.The Labour Secretary Apurva Chandra announced on Monday that the Government is working on a new labour code, which will allow a four-day working week with longer work hours/day.

The weekly limit under the new code will continue to remain 48 hours, however employers will be allowed to deploy their employees flexible work hours, depending upon the number of active days in the week.

Now in order to have a detailed view upon the same, BW Businessworld's journalist had an in-depth discussion upon the same with Yogita Tulsiani, Co-founder, iXceed Solutions. Let's read through her views upon this policy proposition.

1. What is the concept of 4 days work week all about?

The number of working days or hours in a week has always been a debated topic. Also amid the pandemic, many employees and employers learned to work with flexibility as well as for a long stretch in a single day. As a result, the traditional method of working is slowly turning obsolete and the government is rethinking its labour policy. 

To offer more flexibility to companies, The Ministry of Labour and Employment has recently announced its plans to introduce new labour codes including 'four-day work week’. Although the concept of the new labour code is going to reduce the number of 5 or 6 working days to 4, but the number of 48 hours work per week is still going to stay. For instance, if an employer implements this policy, it will be able to deploy employees on four – 12-hour workdays, or five – 10 hours workdays, or size – 8 hours workdays per week.  

2. What are the norms included in the 4 days work week policy announced by the Union Government?

The new labour policy proposes four labour codes for which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has already finalised the rules to turn it into reality. The broad categories of the codes are on wages, industrial relations, social security and occupational safety, health & working conditions (OSH). 

The drafted rules are yet to be notified by the ministry as certain rules will be framed by the State governments under the new codes. 

3. How far India can adopt the newly announced policy?

The adoption of newly announced provision varies from sector to companies. There are many old school corporates in India that view flexibility with suspicion. Given the scenario, implementing a 4 day work week policy impacts the daily volume of work and hours for employees while affecting their work-life balance. Numerous studies suggest – the countries with the highest number of working hours have the lowest employee productivity while those with the shortest working days are the most productive. Sectors like the manufacturing, service sector, etc will have to redesign their working models thoroughly to meet the consumers' expectations and demand. 

4. With the scattered working sector in India, would it be possible to apply a 4 working days policy?

The biggest challenge that Indian business sectors are going to face while adopting the new provision is synchronization between sectors, companies and departments. Some workplaces have 4 working days while some have 5, which might create chaos in their functioning and scheduling. In simple terms, four working days means 57% of the week is working while 43% of the week is ‘off’. It might be difficult for some people to switch modes (work to off) so quickly. Many other work/schedules will have to be altered to keep up with this, some of which might not even be possible.

5. What are the possible hurdles the companies have to face for the implementation of new policy?

One of the major hurdles that companies might face with 4 day work week policy is the decrease in employee productivity. The reduction in the number of working days will ultimately increase the number of working hours per day resulting in low creativity levels. As a result, it will impact their overall performance and quality at work. 

The other possible challenge is chaos in the functioning of the sectors and associated companies. Supposedly, if an organization has 5 working days and the other organization with which it is associated functions 4 days a week, there will be difficulty in smooth functioning and workflows. This could create chaos and cause a delay in work. Additionally, it will have an extensive impact on customer service sectors affecting the company’s public reviews and reputation. 

6. Is India ready for a 4 days work week culture? Comment.

Presently, the biggest concern for forward-moving organizations in India is not deciding the number of working days per week. Given the market uncertainties, the core focus of corporates is to increase the productivity of the workforce. Employees expected to work 12-15 hours a day to implement 4-day work culture will impact employees’ engagement, work-life balance, and overall performance at work. Despite the perks of the new labour code, Indian organizations are skeptical of implementing the 4-day work culture swiftly.   

7. How will the implementation of a 4-day work week hamper the Work-life balance?

The provision of 4 day work week undoubtedly gives the employees an extra day for leisure. However, one of the major drawbacks of this provision is its severe impact on employee productivity. After working at a long-stretch in a single day, employees are likely to feel drained and experience low productivity.  

Not everyone needs extra hours to stay productive or deliver innovative ideas at work. To enable this, people-centric organizations invest huge resources to equip their employees with time management skills to prioritize their tasks for tight deadlines and better productivity. In this case, the number of working hours plays a crucial role in increasing employee productivity and quality of work. 

As per the new labour code, there is a clear reduction in working days. However, its impact will ultimately reflect in the number of increased working hours. Consequently, the increased timeline of work will act as more burden for the employees while raising their stress level per day and decreasing the overall work productivity. 

8. Do you think it will bring a paradigm shift to employee engagement?

No, we don’t believe that the 4 day work week policy is going to bring a paradigm shift to employee engagement in a positive manner. When there will be an increased number of working hours per day, the decline in productivity will ultimately lead to low employee engagement. The employees might feel exhausted and this is going to have a huge impact on their engagement level. 

9. If implemented, what are the benefits it can cater to the working professionals?

Despite certain challenges, the implementation of 4 day work week policy benefits working professionals in getting an extra day for leisure. Many professionals working in the corporate industry face scarcity of personal time. Also, it presents challenges in creating a work-life balance, spending more time with family, fitness, etc. Thus, having 3 days off in a week can help professionals in creating a better work-life balance.  

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