Karnataka mulls 4th Saturday off too, longer workdays
A five-day week may not work out for Karnataka government employees, but a five-day week every alternate week is under consideration. Responding to calls for employee-friendly policies for more than six lakh government staff, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy is said to be looking at declaring the second and fourth Saturdays in a month holidays.
There is a catch, though. To compensate for the loss of seven working hours, the government may add one-and a-half hours to every working day. Currently, employees work seven hours a day — from 10.30am to 5.30pm. This may be increased to 9.30am-6pm, a consideration that has invited vocal opposition.
The five-day work formula could be a double-edged sword: it could enhance employees’ productivity by ensuring good work-life balance but, on the other hand, it could ruin the workflow if there’s no systematic approach to time management. Officials must ensure that additional hours on work days are utilised efficiently and alternative arrangements are made to serve the public who find time on weekends to follow up on pending files. Having a compressed work week and happy employees are productivity strategies adopted by several corporates and it’s time government offices made a transition from a standard format to more professional one. When there’s less time at work, there’s less time to waste.
Social welfare minister Priyank Kharge has sought the chief minister’s intervention to bring in a five-day week to boost employee morale. Kharge told TOI he wanted the JD(S)-Congress coalition government to bring more accountability among employees and introduce a better work culture.
“When corporates are efficiently functioning with five-day weeks, why not the government? By increasing workhours and reducing the number of restricted holidays and giving the weekend off, we can bring a lot of energy in government employees to work efficiently and with dedication,” he said.
The government is losing a little more than three months in a year, Kharge said, due to 34 declared festivals and jayantis (anniversaries of various prominent and divine personalities), 12 second Saturdays (officially declared) and 52 Sundays.
‘Cut down holidays to compensate loss’
Reducing the number of holidays given for jayantis will compensate the loss in work hours (in a five-day week). Further, it will reduce the number of ad-hoc leave and irregular attendance logged in by employees. Two days to fulfill their family obligations and personal work will go a long way,” Kharge said.
The chief minister’s office (CMO) feels otherwise. An official said, “Unlike the central government, the state government has a daily interaction with the people. A five-day week is not possible for us. As a compromise, based on the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, the CM is considering two Saturdays in a month being declared as holidays.”
Karnataka State Government Employees’ Association president HK Ramu has sought time with the CMO to discuss the possibility of a five-day week. “We are ready to accept two Saturdays off, provided the workhours are not increased. Some 60% of the 6 lakh government employees are women who travel about 60km a day in most parts of the state. It is impractical to increase the workhours,” he said.
The association, he said, was willing to make some ‘jayantis’ restricted holidays. An association delegation will meet the CM in two days to discuss implementation of the second phase of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The pay panel headed by retired IAS officer Srinivas Murthy has recommended reducing the number of declared holidays and increasing workhours alongside declaring two Saturdays as holidays.