With the emoluments offered by the private sector being sky high, it is only natural for the government to stem the tide of migration of talented officers to private organisations, and attract meritorious persons to government employment. But what is not comprehensible is the recommendation that staggered working hours be provided to women employees. Is such a system prevalent in any country?

R. Ramachandra Rao,

Hyderabad

The proposal that staggered working hours be introduced and child care leave be extended to benefit women employees with minor children is deplorable. The government should refrain from implementing the discriminative suggestion or make it applicable to working women in all sectors.

P. Jyothiradityan,

Palakkad

I am an Englishman working in Hyderabad. I would like to point out that staggered hours of work and child care leave work very well in Europe. The first, which allows employees to arrive or leave at different times to suit their needs, is called ‘flexi-time.’ This is generally granted to the employees as a privilege. As long as the employees fulfil their contractual hours within limits set by the employer, they are allowed to start when they like and finish when they like. This involves a degree of responsibility on the employees to organise their work so that they have enough work to do during the time when their supervisor or other colleagues are not in the office. One of the benefits of working flexi-time is that for the two hours or so you are in early or late, there are no phones ringing, there is no interaction with your colleagues and as a consequence you will get more work done. Should the employee abuse this privilege, the right to start or end as he or she likes can be removed.

The second practice of taking child care leave or maternity leave is also practised with good results in Europe. When a woman becomes pregnant, the employer knows that she will be leaving within the next few months. This gives him the opportunity to take on an employee to cover the woman’s absence. The new employee’s contract states that it is a temporary contract lasting for the length of the maternity leave, but may be extended should the woman on leave prefer not to come back to work. All women’s contracts should also state that they have the option of maternity leave of such and such a duration, again with the option of not returning to work if they so desire but if they do wish to return to work, their old job will be available to them.

Richard Harper,

Hyderabad

Extension of maternity leave and flexi-time will create a supportive work environment for working women and their families. The bondage between a mother and child is important. The quality time spent by the mother with her child will pave the way for breeding good citizens. It will also ease the plight of working mothers and increase their productivity when they get back to work.

S. Lakshmi Sudha,

Chennai