About 4,000 employees of the Mumbai division of the Central Railway may soon be working flexible hours. Starting 1 November 2023, the employees will have the option of working from 9:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. or from 11:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
The employees can choose which slot to work in at the beginning of each month. That means, even if they want to switch slots, they can do so at the beginning of the month. No request for changes will be entertained in the middle of the month.
The flexibility will allow employees to avoid commuting during the rush hours when the possibility of accidents is also more.
The suggestion to offer flexibility was first mooted about eight years ago when accidents on the local trains of Mumbai had increased, primarily due to overcrowding. Many commuters had even fallen off moving and overcrowded trains. At the time, the government had urged even employers in the private sector to embrace flexible working so that the crowd in the local trains could be reduced.
Offer of flexibility by the Central Railway will provide relief to staff members who otherwise struggle to travel via local trains during rush hours. On a daily basis, almost 60 lakh people use the local trains to commute across Mumbai, via the western and central lines.
The workers and their unions see this as a positive step in the right direction. Over time, they feel, authorities can even work on different fares for peak hours and lean hours. If rush-hour tickets are made more expensive, private companies may also rework on their work hours so that employees can avoid the peak hours.