Work-Vacation balance
Editorial

Work-Vacation balance

August 23, 2019

The issue of number of hours Government employees are required to work in a week of six working days crops up in public debates on and off while in case of industrial workforce the employers at large have been following the eight-hour-per-day regimen. The more important issue of the output by each employee, particularly in administration, doesn’t seem to have been defined or determined in quantitative terms unlike in the case of the employees in manufacturing sector. Despite the lacuna of not stipulating the quantum of work that a babu is required to complete over a given time span such as a day or week or month, its complementary part, namely work-not-done cannot be swept under the carpet. Without casting aspersions on the staff of Government Departments, one may permit oneself to state that the army of quill drivers comprise both workaholics and shirkers, both assured their pay packet on the dot. No need to elaborate on this all-too-familiar scene in the Offices of the Government, except remembering that workaholics slog and shirkers go scotfree, given the sensitivities of many factors, including the caste factor to impress upon the latter about their duties and responsibilities. Saying that the typical worker in industry cannot take it easy, without facing pink slip is saying the obvious.

The Government and employer in private sectors are in relationship with the workforce in diverse ways. However, the issue of remuneration for work done as well as terms and conditions of employment are governed by the land’s laws. One of the provisions in the set of those terms and conditions, namely, leave without loss of pay, doesn’t seem to suffer from ambiguity. What the employee does while on leave may or may not rejuvenate him or her for better performance upon resuming work.

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Going on vacation, meaning travel both within one’s country and to destinations of other regions of the world, is almost a regular part of people in the West. Once the vacation ends, they are known to return to their respective workstation fully charged, a feature not observed in the country in case of majority in the population. A travel portal studying the subject of vacation deprivation covering 19 countries has revealed in its recent report that Indians feel that they are the most vacation-deprived people in the world, going by the fact that more than half do not use their annual vacation entitlement fully. This vacation deprivation is said to be partly self-induced and partly the result of the work-place ambience triggered by many factors including the fear of being considered less committed to work.

Unrelenting hard work for upto 19 hours a day for which India’s Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and his incumbent cohort are known examples may add to the formidable aura that surrounds their persona. Whether that is the example to follow is debatable. Balancing work with vacation amounts to achieve the ideal.

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