Getting central government officials to report for work on time might be a bigger challenge than the government had previously anticipated.
Only 20-25% of such employees are at their work stations when the clock strikes nine, according to the biometric attendance system installed on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directions. The average government official turns up 30 minutes late but is amazingly punctual when it comes to leaving the office.
Central government offices work from 9am to 5:30pm with a half-hour lunch break. According to the 8-hour working day, employees should put in 40 hours a week and 176 hours a month.
The attendance system — linked to a website, http://attendance.gov.in/, that displays average entry and exit timings — indicates government employees on average work not more than 165 hours.
“The focus on punctuality isn’t new and there have been directions dating back to the 1970s,” a senior government official told HT.
“The evidence, however, of employees being late was always anecdotal. With the new system, poor punctuality records are right in your face... Now, you have to deal with it,” he added.
Senior officials have access to the attendance data. Employees will just have to get used to the idea of being punctual, government sources said.
Under the rules, employees who turn up after 9:30am should be marked on half-day leave but department heads have the power to condone the delay.
The home ministry, among the first to install the biometric machines four years ago, requires late-comers to make up for lost time by putting in extra hours to clock at least 40 hours. This was done through the introduction of flexi-timings through the backdoor — something a panel of top civil servants, and later the cabinet, had rejected when the Sixth Pay Commission made the recommendation in 2008.
A senior government official, however, stressed it was important not to lose sight of the fact that babus in Delhi were working more hours than before and more than their counterparts in many states.
At the Centre, weekly working hours have steadily increased from 33.5 hours in the 1940s to 40 hours now. The government introduced a 9-to-5pm schedule when it switched to a five-day week in June 1985. The next year, it increased the work day by 30 minutes.