MUMBAI: The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday approved a five-day week for all state government employees starting February 29. While earlier, the state government’s 22 lakh employees got the second and fourth Saturday of every month off, they will now only work Monday to Friday.
However, their working hours have been extended by 45 minutes every day to make up for time that might have been lost as a result of the new arrangement. So while they started work at 9.45am every day and had to swipe out at 5.30pm, they will now have to work up to 6.15pm, with a 30-minute lunch break in the afternoon.
A five-day week is followed by the Central government and it is in place in states such as Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
The cabinet move came on a demand made by the state government employees union, which has been petitioning successive governments on the issue. Last week the union’s representatives met CM Thackeray, who promised to agree provided work did not suffer, officials said.
According to a government press release, state employees currently have 288 working days which will go down to 264. However, the working hours per day will go up from seven hours and 15 minutes to eight hours. Employees will actually work one day or 24 hours more every year, the statement said.
While in Mumbai all government offices, including employees of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, will follow the new working hours, the five-day week will not apply to government offices covered under the Factories Act and the Industrial Disputes Act and to those that are considered essential services or providers of such services. These include government hospitals, dispensaries, police, jails, fire brigade, conservancy workers, educational institutes (both schools and colleges), technical institutes and others. Employees working on water supply projects too will not follow a five-day week.
Milind Sardeshmukh of the state employees union said all workers were happy with the decision, and it would not adversely affect productivity. “It was our long-pending demand to have a five-day week, and everyone is happy it has been conceded. We had agitated many times for it,” Sardeshmukh said.
However, many women employees are unhappy over the extended hours as they would be able to leave work only at 6.15pm. A woman employee told TOI it would have been better if they had been allowed to come to office earlier in the morning so that the 45 extra minutes they will now have to put in would be better adjusted. “They could have even divided those 45 extra minutes in the morning and evening sessions so that we did not get to reach home late,” the employee said.
Union leaders, however, claimed female employees were also happy with the decision and were ready to adjust if they got two days off a week.
After the cabinet move, teachers from government and aided schools across the state too demanded they be given the benefit as well. While most unaided private schools in the city work for five days, government and aided schools work at least for half a day on Saturdays.
Anil Bornare, member of a teachers’ group said, “Most private schools work only five days. They meet the minimum requirement for working days as prescribed under the Right to Education Act, 2009. The secondary schools code also permit schools to work five days. So why can’t the government extend the same to schools.”
As per the RTE Act, classes I to V must have a minimum of 200 working days or 800 hours, and classes VI to VIII have to meet a minimum requirement of 220 days or 1,000 hours. The state’s secondary school code states the number of holidays cannot exceed 76.
Another teacher, Uday Nare said, “Teachers at government and aided schools are state employees as well. They are made to do all other non-academic tasks that government employees do, like election and census duty. So why is the government not extending the benefit of a five-day week to its teachers?”
(Inputs by Vinamrata Borwankar)


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