Indians work hard but get fewer benefits: report

NSSO report says in urban areas people spend more time on earning a livelihood than compared to rural areas

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Thursday 06 June 2019
Photo: Agnimirh Basu

India's employment situation is unusual: It has already been reported that the rate of unemployment is at its worst in nearly half a century. At the same time, those employed are working long — an average 50 hours a week — revealed the recently released Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS).

The survey, under the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), has already been in news for its delayed release by the Narendra Modi government. It collects data for all three categories of workers:

  1. self-employed
  2. regular wage earners / salaried
  3. casual workers

On an average, a rural worker worked 48 hours a week during the four quarters of the survey; in urban areas it was 56 hours, according to the report.

It considers the total time spent by a worker on production of all goods and services considered as economic activities as hours worked by her.

Urban workers in all categories were found to be putting in more hours than their rural counterparts.

Among the self-employed, men worked 50-51 hours a week while women worked 37-40 hours in rural areas, the report claimed. In urban areas, however, that often translates to male workers working 58-59 hours and women 41-42 hours.

Men on pay rolls in rural areas worked 57-58 hours a week and women put in 50 hours. In urban areas, however, both had to work two-three hours a week extra.

Even casual workers — those with the least rate of employment — spent more time: While men in rural areas work 44-46 hours, it is 45-49 in urban areas. For women it was 37 to 39 hours and 39-42 hours respectively in rural and urban areas.

Most member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) consider a standard working week to be of 40 hours.

The PLFS report underscores that not all workers in India have secured employment despite dedicating so many hours. Also, among regular wage earners/salaried employees in the non-agriculture sector, 49.6 per cent were not eligible for any social security benefit. Women were more margnilaised at 51.8 per cent (men: 49 per cent). This reflecetd in the other two categories as well.

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