According to a report by International Labour Organization (ILO), Indians are among the most overworked workers globally while earning the lowest minimum statutory wage in the Asia-Pacific region, barring Bangladesh.
ILO’s Global Wage Report 2020-21: Wages and Minimum Wages in the Time of COVID-19 states that India ranks fifth in the world among countries with long working hours, often stretching up to 48 hours a week, if not more. Only Gambia, Mongolia, Maldives and Qatar, where a quarter of the population is Indian, have average working hours longer than in India.
The report further observes that the minimum statutory wage of an Indian worker is the lowest in the world, except for some sub-Saharan African countries. Also, Indians spend less than one-tenth of time in a day for leisure, and especially women get far less time than men for leisure. It has also been estimated that self-employed and even salaried men and women spend more than six days in a week on activities relating to work.
Among Indians, it is the well-paid employees – both salaried and self-employed – in urban areas who work longer than those in the rural parts of the country. Casual workers across the country work for almost the same number of hours.
In rural India, while self-employed men work 48 hours, women spend 37 hours working in a week. In the case of regular wage and salaried employees, rural men work for 52 hours a week, while women work for 44 hours. As for casual labour, rural men work for 45 hours per week, and women spend 39 hours working.
In urban areas, self-employed men work 55 hours per week, while women work 39 hours. Salaried employees and regular wage earning men spend 53 hours a week working, while women work for 46 hours. In case of casual labour, urban men spend 45 hours a week working, while women work for 38 hours.
The estimates are deduced from 2019 assessments undertaken by national agencies, whilst data for some nations pertains to previous years.
While the above estimates include time spent on working, short breaks, lunch breaks, time spent travelling between different work locations as part of work, they do not, however, account for time spent commuting to and fro from work and longer meal breaks. Since the estimates are based on a household survey, the estimates include both formal and informal sector labour.