Hour of Work and Quality of Work - European Union (EU) directives

In the early industrial period, working hours remained 10 to 11 hours per day. Due to social and humanitarian considerations, a move towards the reduction of working hours originated. This concern was reflected in the popular slogan of the 1886 International Association of Working Men: 8 hours work, 8 hours leisure, 8 hours sleep".

"The first convention to be adopted by the new International Labour Conference was the Hours of Work (Industry) Convention (1919) which established the 8 or 9 hour day and the 48 hour week for industrial undertakings". By 1930. the same standard was adopted for the commercial and service sectors also. The eight-hour day movement forms part of the early history for the celebration of Labour Day, and May Day in many nations and cultures.

Quality of work life does not alone refers to prescribed working hours in accordance with the labour laws, but also safer work timings to the employees, especially to the women. In the India The Factories Act, 1948, according to section 66, women employees are allowed to work in between the hours of 6 AM to 7 PM only. The factories act strictly restricts the woman to work in between at night hours in between 10 PM to 5 AM. It is opined that employees especially women, maybe abide to section 66 of the factories act, 1948. Legislators had formulated this law to prescribed safer timings to the women employees, keeping in the view of their safety.

Any organisation as a respect and etiquette, not to allow women employees, especially during night shifts to avoid unforeseen incidents and to seek welfare and safety of women. Companies especially BPOs & ITeS must see the safety of women and ensure better work timings and avoid women employees at nights. BPO,s and ITes should not only think about productivity with profitability and should also act socially responsible by not insisting women employees to work during night shifts. One should observe the principal "prevention is better than cure" it is always better to avoid problems rather than inviting them if they are certain. The Delhi gang rape incident on December 16 that has shocked the entire nation, ever since more than 80% of BPOs & ITeS women employees have started leaving office early hours before nightfall.

Facts [+]

There is no federal law or mandate that requires an employer to give workers lunch breaks or rest periods, although most companies allow and encourage them. Studies have found up to 58% of American workers skip their lunch break. Health and workplace experts suggest that this practice ultimately leads to worker burnout and diminished productivity.

The unintended costs associated with irregular schedules, night shifts and extended hours are eroding the profits of American businesses, according to a study by Circadian Technologies, Inc. The profit-eroding factors for businesses with shift operations include lower productivity, higher absenteeism, greater employee turnover, increased health care costs, and more job-related accidents.

According to a CareerJournal.com article on workaholism, a recent study found that highly effective managers worked an average of 52 hours a week, while less productive managers averaged 70 hours of work per week. Managers who logged more hours also reported twice the level of stress-related health problems, such as stomach ailments, headaches, lower-back pain and common colds.

In a recent Randstad survey of state-owned companies, 80% of employees said they received work-related calls and emails beyond office hours. Nearly 69% said they volunteered to work post-office hours while 79% received work-related calls and emails on holidays. Long hours lead to a dip in productivity and creativity.

In early 20th century, QWL Movement achieved considerable attention and hours of work became a prominent concern to increase the quality of life through improved QWL. Many innovative ideas were suggested for the efficient management of time for the employee and employer. These included flexitime, compressed work week, part-time work and telework. Among these alternate working arrangements, flexitime was found to be successful in Europe, Japan, United States and Canada.

A survey showed that men tend to prefer innovative companies that are financially healthy and offer quality products and services, good training and career prospects, whereas women look for factors like easy accessibility, flexible work arrangements, pleasant atmosphere.

While older respondents had greater concern for strong management, values and image, quality products and good work atmosphere, the younger workforce look for technological innovativeness, flexible working arrangements and global career opportunities.

Before entering into the details of flexible working hours, an appraisal of Indian working conditions and social responsibilities need to be mentioned to appreciate the application of these ideas in the Indian context.

Facts [+]

According to The Factories act, 1948 in India

  • Subject to the provisions of Section 51 no worker should be allowed to work more than nine hours in a day. {Section 54}

  • The timings of work should be fixed in such a way that no worker should be required to work continuously for more than five hours; and he should be allowed to avail an interval for rest of at least half-an hour during his work in a day. {Section 55}

  • The period of work of a workman should be so arranged that inclusive of his interval for rest under Section 55 should not spread over more than ten and a half hours in any day. {Section 56}.

  • Women is not allowed to work during the night hours from between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M. Factories act 1948, shall allow women to work in between the hours of 6 A.M. and 7 P.M. only. {Section 66}

European Union (EU) directives

The directives require:

  • maximum average working week (including overtime) of 48 hours over a 17 week reference period

  • minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in every 24

  • breaks when the working day exceeds 6 hours

  • minimum weekly rest period of 24 hours plus the 11 hours daily rest period in every 7-day period

  • minimum of 4 weeks paid annual leave

  • night work restricted to an average of 8 hours in any 24-hour period

The Adamson Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. The law established for railroad workers an eight-hour workday with additional pay for overtime work. This was the first federal law that regulated the hours of workers in private companies in the U.S. The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act made the eight-hour work day a "legal work day" work throughout the nation.

In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1937 applies to employees in industries engaged in, or producing goods for, interstate commerce. The FLSA establishes a standard work week of 40 hours for certain kinds of workers,

Long hours at work doubles depression risk: Study

WASHINGTON: British white-collar workers ( person who performs professional, managerial, or administrative work) who spent 11 hours or more at work each day faced double the risk of depression as those who worked seven-eight hours a day, said a study published on Wednesday.

The research, published in the open-access science journal PLoS ONE, followed more than 2,100 civil servants -- who had no previous depressive episodes or psychological risk factors - for an average of nearly six years.

Those who worked long days were 2.3 to 2.5 times more likely to have a major depressive episode, said the study led by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London.

The link remained the same even when researchers made adjustments for factors such as alcohol and drug use, social support or lack thereof, and strain at work. Still the total number of depressive cases was only 66, or a rate of 3.1 percent, less common than the five percent rate seen in the general population.

"Although occasionally working overtime may have benefits for the individual and society, it is important to recognize that working excessive hours is also associated with an increased risk of major depression," said Virtanen.

The study did not draw conclusions about why the link exists, but said it could be related to factors that were not studied -- such as work-family conflicts, prolonged increase in stress hormone levels and difficulty unwinding after work.

Also, since the study was limited to British civil servants, a larger population sample would be needed to determine if the link exists among blue collar workers or private sector employees, its authors said.

25 Jan, 2012, The Economic Times.

Flexible working leads to rise in revenue, productivity: Study

Flexible working practices have increased employees' productivity and revenue generation of Indian companies, says a study.

According to a report by workplace provider Regus, 79 per cent of Indian companies surveyed said that their productivity increased due to flexible working practices, while 77 per cent linked increasing revenues directly to flexi-working.

The report noted that 72 per cent of respondents say that workers in their company feel healthier thanks to flexible working.

"Technology and network improvements as well as worker demands for a better work/life balance have driven flexible working to become the norm rather than the exception. This survey confirms the business case for flexible working revealing that global businesses see increased productivity and greater revenue generation as directly linked to flexible working practices," Madhusudan Thakur Vice-President Regional South Asia at Regus.

These findings are part of a new global research report from Regus based on responses from 16,000 senior business managers in 80 countries.

Overall, 72 per cent of global businesses reported that increased productivity is a direct result of flexible working practices. In almost all cases, (68 per cent) firms declare that flexible working has led to staff generating increased revenue.

Facts [+]

Employers give more flexibility, but less money Employers are giving employees more flexibility to work from home and work various hours as long as employees get work done, but they’re not willing to pay more for various work-life benefits. This is according to a new study released from the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute. There are nearly 22 million "graveyard-shift" (shift of work running through the early hours of the morning, especially one from midnight until 8 am.) workers in the U.S., according to online medical information provider Healthology. Up to 20% of shift workers report falling asleep on the job. These workers are more likely to experience stomach problems, colds, flu, weight gain, heart problems and higher blood pressure caused as a result of the stresses that shift work can put on a person's body.

According to the U.S. Census, Americans spend more than one-hundred hours commuting to work each year, with an average daily commute taking about 24.3 minutes. New York, Chicago, and Newark, New Jersey recorded the nation's highest average commute times. The lowest average commute times occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas, Wichita, Kansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.