To make for a work force that is flexible and work hours that can be extended, the government is mulling major changes in the Factories Act, 1948.
A significant proposal in the law governing working hours and safety of workers means doubling the number of hours a worker can be made to work over time (OT).
An amendment proposed calls for 100 hours of OT in a quarter, from the present 50 hours per day.It also proposes to raise the 75 hour bar (including the first 50) in case of exigencies to 115 hours in a quarter - maximum hours of OT an employer can extract from worker, without permission from labour officials.
He can squeeze 10 more OT hours, with permission.
The law and international conventions does not allow more than eight hours of regular work per day but there can be two hours of over time per day, for which the worker is paid double the normal rate.
Another proposal is to allow women work during the nights, which is prohibited now in factories. Though such proposal was introduced in Parliament in 2005, it has not seen light of the day.
The labour unions want assurance of doorstep drop back in place of nearest point to home. Call centres, BPOs - where women work in night hours - are governed by the Shops and Establishment Act.
The move comes at a time when Indian industry needs more hands to support its expansion and nation economy - but lacks a skilled work force.
The officials of ministry of labour and employment said, the amendments, if approved could be brought in the budget session.
While the employers say the OT increase would lead to more productivity in a cost effective manner, unions fear the labour exploitation.
"We are ready to consider, but the proposals to a limit but not as high as 125 hours per quarter, which means an OT of two months per worker that will affect his health majorly," Hind Mazdoor Sabha secretary RA Mittal said.
"In the changing economic scenario, we need such flexibility to allow more productivity from installed capacity," Rajeev Bhardwaj, Group General Manager, CCI and member, Employers Federation of India said.
India is competing with China, in race of super powers, banking on the human resource potential.
China has flexible labour laws, which are working to its advantage; one offical said pointing the need of the changes.