Govt employees unhappy with revised working hours

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–Female employees say they are unable to carry out domestic tasks

–These are just lame excuses, Punjab govt spokesperson Chohan terms

LAHORE: While the newly-elected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has revised working hours for government offices to enhance the productivity, the employees of different provincial departments are unhappy with the decision, Pakistan Today learnt.

The decision to reschedule the office timings was made during the first meeting of the federal cabinet. Initially, the proposal was to abolish Saturday’s holiday in all government-run departments but the cabinet decided to keep Saturday a holiday while revising hours from 8am-4pm to 9am-5pm.

While announcing the decision in this regard, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhary had said that the employees used to reach their respective offices around 9am which was a problem as the work started late.

Following the federal government’s decision, Punjab government on September 1 also issued a notification regarding the revision in working hours.

In Punjab, there were two kinds of departments: one where Saturday was a holiday with 8am to 3pm office timings and second where there was no Saturday holiday with duty timings from 8am to 2pm.

However, according to the new notification, the departments with Saturday holiday were asked to observe office timings from 9am to 5pm while the timings of other departments in second category were rescheduled from 9am to 4pm.

The change, according to the government, is a step to improve the official affairs in many ways, however, a majority of the employees have been found complaining about it, arguing that the new office timings have badly disrupted their routine matters.

Habib, 40, an employee of the irrigation department said that prior to the implementation of new timings, his life was much easier as he was able to manage his domestic matters.

“I used to pick and drop my kids from school as I dropped them in the morning at their school while picked them after completing my duty at 3pm,” he said, adding that now it has become a challenge as it is not manageable to adjust with the timetable of kids.

Habib added, “I am a mediocre 16-grade officer and cannot afford to make an alternative arrangement for my kids”.

Another government employee at the agriculture department, who comes to Lahore from Sheikhupura daily, complained about the new timings. He said that this has become a nuisance for him to travel after office timings as he had to face problems in transportation.

FEMALE WORKERS NOT IMPRESSED:

In particular, the female employees have been finding it hard to cope with it. A female officer in Punjab Environment Protection Agency (EPA), while seeking anonymity, told this scribe that even prior to the new office hours, she used to complete her daily tasks while new timings have made to suffer from a situation as she was unable to perform her domestic works at home.

“I have to look after my school-going kids while managing the other home matters,” she said and continued that after new timings, she reaches home very late which disturb the domestic affairs. She suggested that the government should revisit the policy, particularly for the working women.

Another female employee of the EPA told Pakistan Today that her office is situated in Raiwind and it takes at least one hour to reach back home. “I reach home at sunset and traveling this late can never be considered safe for any girl in this society,” she argued.

‘LAME EXCUSES’:

Punjab government Spokesperson Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan, while talking to Pakistan Today, termed these complaints as ‘lame excuses’, saying that the government has not posed any extra burden on the workers.

Saturday has been retained as a holiday and anyone facing domestic problems can sort them out in it, he added.

Responding to another question, Chohan was of the view that the revised working hours will not affect the energy consumption.