A recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that Indians are among the most overworked workers across the world while earning the lowest minimum statutory wage in the Asia-Pacific region, except Bangladesh.
According to 'Global Wage Report 2020-21: Wages and Minimum Wages in the Time of COVID-19', India ranks fifth in the world among countries with long working hours, often stretching up to 48 hours a week.
Only Gambia, Mongolia, Maldives and Qatar have average working hours longer than in India.
As per the report, an average worker in China works 46 hours a week, 36 hours in the UK, 37 hours in the US and 36 hours in Israel.
The data in the ILO report is based on 2019 estimates presented by national agencies.
The ILO report mentions that the minimum statutory wage of an Indian worker is the lowest in the world, except for some sub-Saharan African countries.
"Actual wages could be different from the minimum wages across countries, particularly in the case of blue-collar workers," the report observes.
Among Indians, both salaried and self-employed in urban areas work longer than those in rural areas.
"Across gender, men work longer than women in both villages and urban areas," the 2018-19 Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) said.
In rural parts of India, while self-employed men work 48 hours, women work for 37 hours in a week. In the case of a regular wage and salaried employees, rural men work for 52 hours a week, while women spend 44 hours. As for casual labour, rural men work for 45 hours per week, and women spend 39 hours working.
In urban areas, self-employed men work 55 hours per week, while women work 39 hours. Salaried employees and regular wage-earning men spend 53 hours a week working, while women work for 46 hours. In the case of casual labour, urban men spend 45 hours a week working, while women work for 38 hours.
India conducted its first time-use survey in two decades in 2019. Men spend more than four times as much time as women on paid work in a day. Urban men work an hour extra in one day on paid work compared to women.
The above estimates do not account for time spent commuting to and fro from work and longer meal breaks.
Another shocking finding is that Indians spend less than one-tenth of time in a day for leisure, and especially women get far less time than men. It has also been estimated that self-employed and salaried men and women spend more than six days a week on activities relating to work.
Meanwhile, the government is finalising new labour codes which will allow employers the flexibility to choose between a four-day and a five-day work a week based on the requirement of the sector.
To be implemented soon, it will set the ceiling on no more than 48 hours of work a week but would mean longer working hours.
Ministry of Labour and Employment Secretary Apurva Chandra on Monday said, "Companies will have to give three days' of paid leaves and 12 hours of work per day to their employees with the consent of the workers. We are not forcing employees or employers. It gives flexibility. It's an enabling provision in sync with the changing work culture."