Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Working the IT way

My company has been acquired by another one and its changes all around. The biggest of all and the one that’s taking a toll on me is the change in office timings. Previously it used to be 8.5 hours per day and now it is 9.5 hours! And considering the traffic in Bangalore which takes almost two hours of my time traveling to office, it wouldn’t be a surprise that I reach home totally worn out.

A couple of year’s back I had a correspondence with my professor, who taught us a course called Legal Aspects of Business, regarding working hours of employees in the IT industry. As you know people in the IT industry (especially fresh graduates) are made to work for long hours in the office. Here, I saw a stark contradiction with the labor laws in the country which prevents employees from working more than 8 hours a day.

Lemme copy-paste here the mail conversation we had. I hope my professor wouldn’t mind me doing it.

Jithu wrote:
Hello Sir,

Hope you are doing fine. My name is Sujith and I belonged to the class of 2006 of IIMA and had attended your LAB sessions. :-). Indeed informative they were.

I had a doubt regarding the labor laws of India and I am sure you can give a comment on it. The doubt is regarding the working hours of employees in IT companies. Is it governed by the same Factories Act of 1948 ( or some amendments have been made to this act for IT companies to follow? Most of the IT companies force people to work till late night (more than 9 hours a day). Isn’t it illegal according to this act?

I hope you are not much busy with acads to clarify my doubt.
Thanks & Regards,

Prof. wrote:
Thanks for the email Sujith.

Please remember that all these labor laws are meant for the ‘labor’ (blue collared) and people about whom you are mentioning (white collared) are not covered under the definition. There is no law to fix hours for the working of executives. Labor laws are enacted to prevent exploitation of poor, whereas executives are capable enough of protecting themselves, hence, there is no law for them.

Jithu wrote:

Thank you very much for the clarification.

Somewhere feel bad when I see guys who are recruited directly from engineering colleges are put into work up to around 17 hours a day in various IT companies. I strongly feel they also require protection. Executives are supposed to be capable of protecting themselves, but the question is whether they are actually able to do that or not. The question becomes who is being exploited here.

Once again, thank you very much for your prompt response Sir. :-)
Have a nice day..

Prof. wrote:
To take it a bit further.....
Engineers who work for 17 hours have a choice to join a company which pays less and makes them work for lesser hours. It is a choice which the engineers have themselves made out of their own sweet will. Senior management professionals/govt. officers/military officers/business persons, etc. are on the job 24 hours.
For labor, there would be no such work available and employers would exploit them, hence the law.

Jithu wrote:
Yeah that’s true Sir, they do have a choice. Can be considered as something they choose for themselves for the handsome bucks they earn.

What you said is true Sir; the act is not meant to put a limit to the working hours, but to prevent exploitation.

Sir, if I could talk a bit about the choice part. Even though they have a choice, most of the IT companies out there, work in the same fashion. Also India is an unemployment high country that most of the times; it’s a matter of getting a job than anything else and people tend to choose the option that’s at hand without thinking much about the working hours and nowadays it has become kind of a norm in IT companies.

Thanks very much for these valuable insights Sir.
It was nice to be in touch with you once again.. :-)


So, working for long hours is something which we IT guys choose by ourselves. But my question is how many of us did that by a choice? Did we have options? Somewhere I feel our situation is much more pathetic than the blue collared employees. Do we now need a law for protecting people working in IT?

Hmm.. Guess, I have no other options but to adjust myself to the new timings... So here I am at the office everyday at 9 am till it rings 6:30 pm!

PS: How long will it take for one to complete a short story? Well, for me its two years and is still not over!