Night shift blues for working women

Hyderabad, August 01: Despite good pay packages, women employees, especially those in BPOs, call centres, hospitals etc., are usually not comfortable with working in night shifts. Not only are there safety and security concerns, they also face problems commuting, health issues and socio-cultural problems such as childcare facilities and lack of a social life.

This was revealed in a survey on night shifts of women in major Indian cities, conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industries (Assocham) and sponsored by the National Commission for Women. The survey results were based on information on what employers and women employees thought about night shifts and how it impacted women’s lives. According to the survey, 38 per cent women in Hyderabad feel insecure while working in night shifts preceded by Ludhiana and Bengaluru. While 13 per cent employees find commuting very taxing, around 14 per cent feel the need for crèches and separate lounges for nursing mothers at workplaces. Eight per cent encounter social problems and just two per cent get in-house training on self-defence and health issues.

Nikita K., a BPO employee, says, “I’m used to doing night shifts for the last seven months. Though we have pick-up-and-drop facilities, we face problems when the cab is overloaded and sometimes drivers are also drunk. So, we don’t feel 100 per cent safe.” Besides safety, security and commuting problems, absence of childcare and crèches in almost all organisations is also a big problem.”

A young mother, B. Hemalatha, who works as a nurse at a private hospital in the city says, “Absence of childcare facilities in most workplaces is a major cause of concern. In between work, we keep worrying about our toddlers left at home.”

Social crisis is another area that needs attention. Women working in night shifts are unable to attend parties and get-togethers. Neither can they spend quality time with their children in the evenings. This results in family conflicts. Deepti S, a corporate employee said, “I know of a friend who had a tough time balancing family and work because her schedule was from 2 am to 10 am. Her relationship with her in-laws was also strained. Moreover, she started having health problems. Ultimately, she switched to a 9 to 5 job,” she said.