India is a country of youth now and we are proud of it. It provides us a great opportunity. The youth not only need employment but also work life balance. Joint families are gone. One child norm has come. Both husband and wife need work. So they need a break. Scientific studies on health have proved that 2 day week end improves health as well as productivity. So to increase productivity we need five day week.
Let’s have a look at History
When workers were forced to work from dawn to dust, Robert Owen, an employer as well as labour leader raised the slogan for 8 hours work in 1817. His slogan was eight hours for labour, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest. The demand for 8 hour work came from India in 1862 from the railway workers of bengal. 1200 workers in Howrah railway station took part in a strike in May 1862 demanding 8 hour work. Only in August 1866 international workmen’s association took up the demand for 8 hour day in its convention at Geneva. The first company to provide 8 hour work was Bosch at Stuttgart, Germany. Robert Bosch marked the manufacture of the 100,000th magneto ignition system by introducing the eight–hour working day on June 23, 1906. TIL Tata Steel was the first company in India to introduce a 8 hour shift in 1912, Henry Ford adopted it in 1914.
Now 8 hour work is the norm throughout the world after the ILO convention Co47 of 1935 (40 hour work convention). India adopted it. So our country was a pioneer to provide labour rights.
The first company to introduce five day week was Ford Motor company in 1926. Henry Ford felt that 5 day week will increase productivity of workers as well as increase demand for cars. So it was an employer who wanted five day week first.
In China, US and Hungary five day week is provided by law. In other countries it has become a practice. After Ford company announced five day week (1926), in 1929 the Amalgamated clothing workers of America was the first union to demand five day week and get it. During great depression president Herbert Hoover (US) called for reduction in work hours instead of lay off. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938 which established a five day, 40 hour work week for many workers.
The New Economic Foundation has recommended moving to a 21 hour standard work week to address problems with unemployment, high carbon emission, low wellbeing, entrenched inequalities, overworking, family care and the general lack of free time. What a nice analysis and suggestion?
The Centre for Economic and Policy Research states that reducing the length of work week would slow climate change and have other environmental benefits. Our Prime Minister who has publicly proclaimed support for environment benefits should take note of this.
Four day week
Based on the above many countries and companies have started four day week. Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has implemented four day week and 6 hours work.
A study in US in 2017 (worklogic HR) shows that in US in practice the actual average work per week with 5 working days is only 34.4 hours. New York times of 2.7.2020 has published an article, “Is the five day office week over?” Sweden has experimental 6 hour, 4 day week and has confirmed that the productivity has increased.
nbcnews.com has announced on 12th June 2020 in headlines saying, “A four day week might exactly what the US and it’s economy needs now”.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda has announced 4 day week.
Andrew Baines, author of a book, Four Day week Global “has launched a world wide campaign for four day week.
Amazon has done a trial on four day week and found it successful. Microsoft has done a trial in Japan on four day week and reported positive results.
Companies like Perpetual Guardian, New Zealand, Bose Camp, USA, KPMG have experimented four day week and found it successful.
Health and Productivity
A study by American Journal of Epidemiology has stated that those who work for more than 40 hours in a week have poor vocabulary and reduced reasoning ability.
Another study by Business Round Table has reported fall in productivity when working hours was increased.
In UK a trial was done in 1974 for 2 months with 3 day week and confirmed that the production went down by 6% only.
France has experimented 35 hours work and found people became healthier and happier.
In 2015-17, a Swedish Nursing Home experimented 6 hours work. It found sick leave dropped by 10%. A 2004 report published by CDCs Dept. of Health & Human services has published a summary of 52 applied psychology studies. It says, “People who routinely work extended hours and overtime are less productive than those who work 8 hours day and 40 hours week.
Another interesting study in US says that with the advancement of technology, on an average, people work 7 hours a week outside office. They spend this time on checking office emails, reply to mails, do follow up from home or office outside working hours.
Labour Dept of United Kingdom has published a detailed note on five day week in its official website.
It points out the employer’s benefits as
- Enhanced efficiency
- Reduced absence rate
- Enhanced enterprise competition
- Retention of talents &
- Promote corporate image
It points out the employee benefits as
- Rest, recuperation leading to greater devotion.
- Can devote more time for families
- Lesser travel to office
- Will have time for further studies.
It also says, “In the wake of society’s increasing attention on work life balance, more employers have adopted various types of family friendly employment practice to help employees fulfill their work and family responsibilities simultaneously.
So work life balance is important throughout the world.
In Our Country
In our country all central government establishments, RBI, forex department, parliament, state assemblies, treasury, IT/BT industries observe a 5-day week. All IT companies spearheaded by Infosys and WIPRO adhere to 5 day week. Foreign banks in India also follow 5 day week. Majority of state government offices remain closed on Saturdays. Recently Maharashtra state government introduced it. Therefore banking industry switching over to 5-day week will not make much difference to routine business, rather it will increase productivity, reduce expenditure and give employee satisfaction.
So there is total justification for 5 day week to be introduced in the banking industry following the footsteps of RBI which has defined 8 hours work, five day week and flexible working hours. LIC always follows suit.
Advancement of technology:
In the light of the revolutionary changes that have taken place as regards the technology initiative, such as Core Banking Solution, Tele banking, Internet banking, Kiosk Banking, Mobile banking, Cash Deposit Banking, any time anywhere banking and also the banking expansion through a large ATM network (221703 as on March 2019), Cash deposit machines, NEFT,RTGS,IMPS,UPI,E WALLETS, 4.25 million Micro ATMs(POS) ,50.3 million credit cards, 840.6 million debit cards, 627 million internet users and 6.2 billion mobile banking users there is no need for banks to work on saturdays.
This will also reduce global warming to an extent. Further, 5-day week will provide good health to bank employees and reduce expenditure on electricity and fuel
Following are the benefits of a 5 day work week for our country:
- 1. Reduced fuel costs. Employees would have to endure the dreaded commute one less day each week, thereby saving money at the pump with reduced fuel consumption.
- 2. Decreased absenteeism. On a six-day schedule, employees are forced to cram their one day off with personal errands, chores, games, and social outings. By the time Monday comes around, there hasn’t been a minute of rest and employees are tired. So they call out of work. This wouldn’t happen so frequently if employees had a second day to accomplish the work they have to do outside of office.
- 3. Increased productivity. It’s a well-established principle of productivity that workers become less efficient where no deadline looms. That’s why we’re more efficient in the week before vacation—we know we have to get it done by the time we leave. The same idea is transferable to a shortened workweek. Employees are least productive on Saturdays so why not just eliminate them altogether?
- 4. Improved job satisfaction and morale. Satisfaction with what goes on in the workplace may be tied to what goes on outside of the workplace. Employees who spend more time with family and friends, who have the flexibility of two days off, will return to work refreshed.
- 5. Reduced personnel turnover. Not surprisingly, #4 leads to #5. Happier employees tend to leave less often. If they like the job, they’re more likely to stick around.
- 6. Reduced energy costs. By closing for two, instead of one day each week, banks stand to reduce substantial energy costs. These costs can be significant.
- 7. Improved work-life balance. As a result of the added day, employees who work a five-day week will have more time to spend with their families and friends.
- 8. Reduced traffic congestion. This potential effect may be seen largely on Saturday, which is the day most employers are converting to a non-working day.
- 9. Some state governments have done it. In Karnataka, Kerala and Bengal the state govts have provided five day week to financial sector which helps to break the chain during Covid 19.
- 10. Promise of 10th Bipartite. When 2 Saturday off was agreed during the 10th Bi partite settlement, on 25 th May 2015, Mrs. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman, SBI who was specially deputed by the Finance Ministry to conclude the settlement, promised that if 2 saturday off works well five day week will be reviewed and implemented after 6 months.
- 11. Better immunity. Covid 19 has shown that we need better immunity and healthy people could survive easily. Five day week will help in this.
- 12. Who will benefit directly? Five day week will help 11 lakh bank employees, 6 lakh insurance employees including agents and will have an effect on other sectors.
- 13. More employment. Those who want more work will employ more workers which will generate employment.
- 14. More spending. The employees will spend one day atleast on outing and spend money which will provide a boost to the economy.
- 15. The financial army deserves a gift. In spite of the lock down, the banks are open, employees commuting with great difficulty, hundreds have died, thousands affected by the virus, they get lesser insurance coverage, the direct benefit transfers are disbursed by them, they are giving all the loans under the Atma Nirbhar package, they have opened 40 crore Jan Dhan accounts, donated their salary to the PM CARES and serving the Nation with devotion. They deserve a gift.
Why this has not been done?
Though every one in IBA agree that we need five day week they say the government is not for it as we have more holidays. Can the government discriminate bankers when RBI and government employees have five day work? Even after the latest settlement they get lesser salary than government, RBI and Insurance employees. Not to talk of IT employees or new generation banks .
They say Prime Minister is not for it. Did anybody try to explain to him? Does it require his approval? Did it reach his ears at all?
For a healthy nation with satisfied youth who will produce more and spend we require five day week.
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” —Mother Teresa,
Thomas Franco is former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation.