Companies will be able to provide even a four-day week to employees as the labour ministry would provide flexibility in this aspect in the final rules to be brought out under the labour codes.
Labour secretary Apurva Chandra told reporters, "We have tried to give flexibility in working days. It is entirely possible that some employers may want to provide a five-day week. We have also come across employers who said they are keen to provide a four-day working week."
However, the working hours cannot go beyond 48 hours, he clarified. Those who give a four-day week will have to provide three consecutive holidays after that, he clarified further.
So there would be flexibility for employers to give a four, five or six-day week, he said. However, there has to be an agreement between employers and employees over four-day week, it cannot be thrust on employees, Chandra said.
To a question, he said the unions were against the rules only if the employer does not give a three-day consecutive holiday after a four-day week.
The four labour codes were passed by Parliament in September. The ministry came out with the first draft of the rules in December and received comments in January.
"We are giving final shape to the rules. We have also interacted with the states. Most of the states are in the process of framing the rules. Some of the major states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh would be coming out with the draft of their rules by February ten. J&K has already published it," the labour secretary informed.
He also disclosed that the concerns were raised during tripartite talks on draft rules regarding spread over time. The draft rules on the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions proposed 12 hours of spread over time in an establishment in a day, up from 10.5 hours currently. The spread over time refers to working hours, besides the time for lunch and other breaks.
"We have tried to make some changes in this (while finalisng the rules)," the labour secretary said.
Rationalisation of Tax free income on provident funds:
Chandra informed that the number of people who are contributing more than Rs 2,50,000 a year to employees' provident fund (EPF) is 1,23,000 out of total 65 million subscribers, which is a miniscule number. The Budget brought these people under the tax net. "The decision will stop high networth individuals to misuse a welfare facility and earn wrongully tax-free income as assured interest return," he said.
Surveys on Unorganised sector:
The labour secretary said four major surveys have been commissioned by the labour bureau on migrant workers, domestic workers, transport workers and professional workers.
These would be household surveys to be conducted by the labour bureau.
Chief labour commissioner D S Negi said," We already have 35 meetings of expert groups. The surveys will start most probably by the second week of March. Results will come by the next seven months."