Labour Code draft rules propose 12-hour working day; easier norms for contractors

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on November 20, 2020

‘Spread over time’ idea introduced

The Labour Ministry has proposed raising ‘spread over time’ for a worker to 12 hours a day from the current limit of 10-and-half hours. This is part of the draft rules for the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code.

‘Spread over time’  refers to working hours plus the time for lunch and other breaks.

No worker shall be required, or allowed, to work in an establishment for more than 48 hours in a week, the draft rules state. The period of work  shall be so arranged that, inclusive of  the intervals for rest, it shall not spread over for more than 12  hours in a day.

They further stipulate that no worker will work for more than five hours without an interval for rest of at least half-an-hour. Subject to these conditions the working hours may be modified so that the total number of working hours in a week shall be so fixed and followed, the rules said. According to KR Shyam Sundar, Professor at XLRI, “the government has kept weekly working hour consistent with the ILO convention. However, by increasing the ‘spread over time’, it has given employers the leeway to keep  worker in for longer hours.”

Technically, workers will be required to work for eight hours, but there will be up to four hours for lunch and other breaks. “It will incentivise employers to go for two shifts instead of three. Then, employment numbers might also probably decline,” Sundar added.

Single licence

 To formalise the contract labour system, the draft rules spell out the conditions for a contractor to get a licence. It states that the contractor, as an entity or as an individual, should not be an un-discharged insolvent or convicted any time during the last two years of any criminal offence liable for more than three months of imprisonment. There will also be provision for single licence for a contractor to work in more than one State.

‘Hurdles removed’

 Lohit Bhatia, President, Indian Staffing Federation, said  both user companies and the contract staffing industry faced huge administrative hurdles which have now been taken off with the single licence to operate at State/national level for five years. This  will undoubtedly help in increasing the protection for both employees and employers to work with licensed staffing companies.

Published on November 20, 2020

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