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This article has been written by Mukesh Mahanand and edited by Shashwat Kaushik.


Human civilization is interdependent. In the 21st century, we have several work sectors: the primary sector (agriculture), the secondary sector (industry), and the tertiary sector (services). Each field involves an employee-employer relationship, necessitating defined working hours. However, there are instances where employees work more than legally prescribed hours, leading to labour law violations. As a result of excessive working hours, employees face personal issues such as illness, depression, reduced happiness, and decreased participation in social activities.

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Who is an employee

The Industrial Relations Code of 2020 defines who is an employee in general. An employee is defined as any person employed by an industrial organization, any company, cottage industry, or any similar sector, regardless of their skill level (skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled), or position, for any period. The term ’employer’ refers to the owner of the companies or industries, as declared by the government.

Who is an employer

Any individual, whether acting as an employer directly or indirectly, or on behalf of another individual, who employs in an establishment that is overseen by a department, either central or state, falls under the jurisdiction or authority designated by the department head. The authority also covers establishments operated by the local authority, including contractors, local authorities, or legal representatives. 

The working hours of employees

Section 25 of the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Condition Code 2020, elaborates on hours of work and annual leave with wages:

  • The workers are not allowed to work more than eight hours a day. 
  • That is, the working hour times include spent work during the running time of transport vehicles, subsidiary works, and attendance at terminals of less/more than fifteen minutes.

Working journalist

The working journalist’s hours of work are subject to a maximum of one hundred and forty-four hours of work during any period of four consecutive weeks and not less than twenty-four consecutive hours of rest during any period of seven consecutive days.

In addition to such holidays, casual leave or another kind of leave as may be prescribed, earned leave on full wages for not less than one-eleventh of the period spent on duty, and leave on medical certificates on one-half of the wages for not less than one-eighteenth of the period of service. 

Weekly compensatory holidays

No worker shall be allowed to work for more than six days in any week. Provided that in any motor transport undertaking, an employer may, in the event of any dislocation of a motor transport service, require the worker to work on any day of the weekly holiday, which is not to arrange that the worker does not work for the whole day.

Any worker deprived of any weekly holidays, or due within the two months immediately following that month, a compensatory holiday of an equal number of holidays

Prohibition of overlapping shifts

The worker shall not be allowed to carry out the same kind of work arranged at the same time, i.e. – a worker works in that mine, so any other mine can do the same kind of work.

So a worker has worked in any mine for 12 hours already, so that worker cannot work in any other mine doing the same work.

Annual leave with wages

Every worker employed shall be entitled to leave in a calendar year with wages subject to the condition:

  • He has to work one hundred and eighty days or more in such calendar year
  • The worker is entitled to one day leave for every twenty days of his work in case the worker works in mine, rather than every fifteen days of his work in such calendar year
  • Any period of layoff, maternity leave, or annual leave availed by such worker in such calendar year shall be counted for calculating for a period of one hundred eighty days, but he shall not earn leave.
  • Any holiday fall between the leave availed by such worker is excluded from that period of leave so availed.
  • Such a worker whose service commences on one of the first days of January shall be entitled to be left with wages if he has worked for one-fourth of the total days as a reminder of the calendar year. If such worker dies, is discharged, or is dismissed, the legal heir or nominee can get such a facility
  • If such a worker does not take any leave in a calendar year, take the whole of the leave allowed to him at the end of the year, or any leave not taken to him shall be added in the next succeeding calendar year, but it does not exceed thirty days.
  • Any worker who applied for leave with wages and refused gets the encashment to leave at the end of the calendar year as per the demand

Over time

Over time when shall be paid wages at the rate of twice of wages in respect of overtime work, where a worker works in an establishment for more than such duties in any say any week all the period of overtime work shall be calculated daily. Overtime must be with the consent of the employer.

Workers over and heavy works

In every state, worker safety and facilities depend on the government and policies. Generally, developed states have good labour laws and are primarily focused on the safety and welfare of the worker, but in developing and underdeveloped economies, there is always a lot of responsibility and a stressful situation with hard work. Basically, for that reason, the worker’s hours and overworking duration are high, which causes accidents and injuries. As per the data from DGFASLI reports, more than 11,000 deaths and 4000 injury cases are registered each year, and all the responsibility of the worker is transferred to the supervisor and contractor. There are thousands of workers who regularly lose their hands, fingers, and other injuries, according to CRUSHED 2022.

A worker in this stage of fatigue has approximately a 62% chance of a high risk of causing accidents. Fatigue increases the chances of human error as well as a decline in the performance of the worker.

What happens to repeated long hours of work

The employer and employee are both working hard to be productive and finish the work on time, but the overwork causes various problems, like:

Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease- Worker heart-related disease due to industrial work, pollution, and working more than 7 or 11 hours per day increases the risk of myocardial infarction. Those who work more than 50 hours per week have a decreased risk of developing ischemic heart disease.

Hypertension- working more than 60 hours per week has a very high chance of suffering from systolic blood pressure and high blood pressure, but hypertension is caused by duty hours or workload but is not directly related.

Diabetes Mellitus- It is one of the diseases caused by long working hours. The disease is related to the daily diet, food, lifestyle, and food timing, causing diabetes mellitus.

Work stress- People who work more than 10 hours per week or 60 hours per day have a chance to suffer from work stress, which increases the chance of work stress and psychological problems or something like that.

Health behaviour- The workers are taking care of their health and fitness, but those who smoke, consume alcohol, and lead a sedentary lifestyle are likely to face various health-related problems.

Sleep fatigue- In general, the public takes 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day, but less than that hour is problematic for every lack of sleep or the root of every disease.

Occupational injury- When any person works 12 hours a day and 60 hours per week, they may cause occupational injury.

Note that all diseases or health-related problems depend on the person and how much that person is conscious of their health care His/her excessive hours of work do not directly cause any such disease but indirectly affect the health of the person.

Does less work boost productivity?

In a survey in 2018, British workers worked 42 hours per week, while the average full time German worked 1.8 hours less each week, but the workers were 14.6% more productive. And in Denmark, the average work week was 37.7, but the workers in that country were 23.5% more productive.

Various studies say that fewer working hours with proper sleep boosts the productivity of the worker, but that does not mean that they have no workload; they have knowledge but work more productively in a shorter time frame.

The short-term working hour is not for all. There are individuals who are workaholics and love to spend time in the workplace. The long working hours improve the friendly environment among employees and increase positive stress (work pressure), which boosts productivity.  

Way forward

A few steps for achieving better labour standards are:

  • There must be strict execution of the labour laws, time duration for duties, proper rest time, safety, salary, and mental and physical health. Each thing should be properly taken care of with strict execution of the laws.
  • The government must, from time to time, check all the companies- the concerned department should check—and examine all the things, like the cleanliness of the working space, and fulfil all the guidelines, like drinking water, lights, safety measures, and health care for the labour.
  • Research different approaches and strategies to improve productivity, reduce risk, and provide a better work environment.
  • Medical facility restroom, washroom, and canteen facilities should be in the workplace.


The working hours of workers are always important for industries. Flexible working hours as per law and facilities with health care must be needed. The world’s happiest country, Norway, has one of the best labour laws, maternity benefits, medical care, and short working hours productivity, which proves that every democracy that primarily focuses on the people of the respective country boosts the economy to a happy country as well. 



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