June 24, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

THE PROBLEM WITH THE ’70 HOURS A WEEK’ LINE

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THE CONTEXT:   Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy suggested that the youth of the country should volunteer to work 70 hours a week for India’s development.

ABOUT LABOR PRODUCTIVITY:

  • Labor productivity measures the hourly output of a country’s economy.
  • It is defined as real economic output per labour.
  • Growth in labor productivity depends on three main factors:
    • Saving and investment in physical capital,
    • New technology
    • Human capital

INDIAN WORKER’S PRODUCTIVITY STATUS:

  • Innovation Index 2021: This report produced by NITI Aayog. It showed that in 2018, India’s gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) as a percentage of GDP was 0.65%, (one of the lowest in the world). This figure dipped further to 0.64% in 2020-21, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO): Latest data of ILO for 2023 shows that the workers of the country are already working more than their counterparts in other countries. As per the rankings, Indians work 47.7 hours a week, which is seventh longest in the world.

WORKING HOURS IN THE WORLD:

  • New Labour Codes in India: It mandates that workers put in 8 hours a day, capping the weekly work hours at 48 hours.
  • In Germany, weekly working hours have been reduced by about 59%, from 68 hours in 1870 to less than 28 hours in 2017.
  • Japan had a 44-hour working week in 1961, the highest ever since 1950, which steadily decreased to less than 35 hours in 2017.
  • Working hours tend to decrease when incomes rise and people can afford more things that they enjoy, including more leisure.
  • Productive economies: Workers work less.
  • Less productive poorer economies: Workers have to work more to compensate for lower productivity.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST LONG WORK WEEK:

  • Health: According to ILO, working hours and the organization of work and rest periods can have a profound influence on the physical and mental health and well-being of workers. Working long hours or under stressful situations can contribute to health issues such as exhaustion, burnout, and depression.
  • Economy: Decisions on working time issues can also have repercussions for the broader health of the economy.
  • Productivity: Research consistently shows that productivity declines significantly after 50 hours of work per week and drops further after 55 hours.
  • Exploitation: Employees who are obliged to work long hours or take on additional duties may need more time to earn a decent salary. This might result in financial difficulties, stress, and anxiety.
  • 70-hour work week proposal violates the international labour standards (ILS), the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Decent Work Agenda and its Fundamental Conventions that lay down the working hours in order to ensure that women and men get decent and productive work.

ARGUMENTS FOR LONG WORK WEEK:

  • Productivity: India’s work productivity is one of the lowest in the world. A 70-hour work week increase productivity because Employees put in longer hours and increase the level of how much they complete. This allows the company to produce more goods or services and deliver them to customers at a faster rate.
  • More jobs: longer working hours may lead to more job opportunities. This is because businesses may be more likely to hire workers who are willing to work long hours.
  • Higher wages: Workers who work longer hours may be able to earn higher wages. This is because they are able to complete more work and are therefore more valuable to their employers.

THE WAY FORWARD:

  • Strong innovation system: The level of productivity of a country depends on the strength of its innovation system. Countries which have stronger innovation systems as compared to that of India’s private sectors have much higher shares.
  • Supportive work culture: A Deloitte study reveals that 94% of executives and 88% of employees recognise the crucial role of corporate culture in a company’s success.
  • Improve Infrastructure: Infrastructure development is crucial to achieve India’s 2047 vision for a $ 40 trillion economy and be reclassified from a developing economy to a developed economy.
  • Improve education: Investing in education will improve the skills of labour force.
  • Incentive programs: Incentives are a great way to encourage employee productivity. Incentive programs boost their morale and enable them to complete more work in less time.

THE CONCLUSION:

Enhancing productivity without extending work hours is beneficial for both employees and the economy as a whole. It fosters a healthier work-life balance and contributes to overall well-being.

PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS:

Q) Faster economic growth requires increased share of the manufacturing sector in GDP, particularly of MSMEs. Comment on the present policies of the Government in this regard. (2023)

Q) Is inclusive growth possible under market economy? State the significance of financial inclusion in achieving economic growth in India. (2022)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q) “Labour productivity may not be directly correlated with extended working hours”. Discuss the statement in the context of the new Labour Codes being implemented in India.

SOURCE: The problem with the ‘70 hours a week’ line – The Hindu

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