The advent of digital technology not only makes communication instant and cheap, but has dissolved the working space and hours and put the employees available for work round the clock.
So far in India, only industrial workers used to get wages for working overtime according to the provisions under the Factories Act, 1948, which also limits the maximum working hours in a week at 48 hours. However, the concept of overtime wage or salary is not there elsewhere and employees working in other departments or sectors, especially in private sectors, use to work extra hours without any additional remuneration.
The advent of digital technology not only makes communication instant and cheap, but has dissolved the working space and hours and put the employees available for work round the clock. However, working for that mandatory job, assigned through a phone call or email during odd hours or weekend, may no longer be a thankless one, if the Right to Disconnect Bill, 2018, introduced in Lok Sabha by NCP MP Supriya Sule, is passed and enacted.
According to the private member bill, which seeks to include all companies across India, employees will have the right not to answer phone calls or emails beyond work hours and actions cannot be taken against an employee for the refusal.
Although the bill allows the employers to negotiate the out-of-work hours with their employees, but every employee working during the mutually-agreed out-of-work hours shall be entitled to overtime at the normal wage rate.
Moreover, to make such negotiations for out-of-work hours fair, the bill says, “Every registered company and society shall constitute a Employees’ Welfare Committee consisting of its employees to assist or represent the employees for negotiation of terms and conditions of out-of-work hours with employers.”
The employees will again have the right to disconnect beyond the mutually-agreed out-of-work hours.
The bill also seeks intervention of appropriate government to ensure that the negotiations for conditions of outside-work-hours, between employees and employer, are conducted at regular intervals, to ensure flexibility in the rules of right to disconnect.
However, allowing to make policy for employees working remotely, the bill says, “Every individual registered entity, company or society, shall frame a policy for its employees who are working in remote areas or, involved in teleworking or working from home, such policy has to be mutually agreed by employees.”
To ensure adherence to the provisions, the bill seeks that every individual entity shall pay penalty at the rate of 1 per cent of total employees’ remuneration in case of non compliance of the rules.
The need for such a bill arises as Indians toil longest hours in the world, with Mumbai topping the chart with 3,315 hours a year, and enjoy very short vacations with only about 10 days a year in most private organisations.
So, the passage of the bill would ensure at least some relief and reward for working overtime.