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In a surprising development that has sparked concern and interest, the Central government has issued a strong message to its employees: "Arrive at the office by 9:15 am or lose half-day leave." The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), ministry which is under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued this guideline.

Despite its apparently straightforward nature, this directive holds considerable legal ramifications, impacting workplace norms, employee entitlements, etc. Let's explore this further.

THE 15-MINUTE GRACE PERIOD                                                                             

Central government employees are now allowed a 15-minute grace period for arriving at their offices. This rule is applied equally to everyone: from senior officials to the junior most employees.

With official working hours spanning from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, employees must ensure they are present by 9:15 AM. Beyond this threshold, consequences kick in.

SALARY DEDUCTION: THE WEAPON                                                                        

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued a clear warning: if an employee arrives late past 9:15 AM, half their salary will be deducted. This rule applies universally, including to senior officers. 

The severity of this measure underscores the government’s commitment to enforcing punctuality.

BIOMETRIC ATTENDANCE SYSTEMS                                                                   

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, many government offices temporarily suspended the use of biometric attendance systems. 
  • However, the central government has mandated their reinstatement in February, 2022. 
  • The directive issued last year encouraged central government employees to resume biometric attendance, highlighting the importance of addressing persistent lateness and leaving work early.
  • Biometrics provide an accurate record of employee arrival times, facilitating adherence to the 15-minute deadline.

CASUAL LEAVE AND COMMUNICATION                                                        

  • If an employee is unable to arrive punctually at the office on a particular day, they are required to notify their superior beforehand and request casual leave. Failure to do so will result in half-day casual leave being deducted from their entitlement.
  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has also instructed officers to ensure that their staff maintain punctuality and to closely monitor their attendance.


1. Employment Contracts and Obligations

  • When one signs an employment contract, he/she implicitly agrees to adhere to the organization’s rules and policies.
  • Attendance requirements fall squarely within this framework. Employers have the right to set reasonable expectations regarding punctuality.

2. Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

  • Exempt employees, typically salaried professionals, have more flexibility. They’re evaluated based on results, not clock hours.
  • Non-exempt employees, on the other hand, are subject to strict timekeeping. Their pay often depends on actual hours worked.


It is interesting to note that in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government sought to implement fixed office hours, but employees pushed back, citing difficulties with long commutes as a major challenge.

The 15-minute delay policy serves as a wake-up call for government employees. It underscores the importance of punctuality and accountability. By implementing this policy, the government seeks to instil discipline and improve overall work culture.

Remember, time is money—even in the corridors of bureaucracy.

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