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Govt allows 100% WFH for employees of IT units in SEZs

Employees of IT units in Special Economic Zones are allowed to completely work from home until December 2023, the Union government said on Thursday, December 8.

The government amended the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) rules to permit IT/ITeS units in SEZs to allow 100 per cent of their workforce to work from home (WFH) till December 31, 2023, with certain conditions. “A unit may permit its employees…to work from home or from any place outside the SEZ,” the commerce ministry said in a notification.

Employees covered in the decision includes employees who are temporarily incapacitated; those who are travelling; and those working offsite, according to the notification of the commerce ministry.

As per the conditions, SEZ unit owners have to intimate the same to the Development Commissioner of the respective zones and will have to continue to operate from the premises as per their letter of approval. Units seeking WFH in future can email an intimation on or before the date of commencement of WFH.

It also said that the unit will not be required to submit the list of employees who are allowed to follow WFH or from any place outside the zone, but have to maintain that list within the unit.

The unit will have to ensure that export revenue of the resultant produces or services must be accounted for by the unit to which the employee is tagged. Laptops, desktops or other equipment can be provided to employees to work from home, it added.

The work that an employee who is allowed to work from home will perform has to be as per the services approved for the unit, and has to be related to a project of the unit.

In July, the Department of Commerce had notified an amnedment to the SEZ rules that allowed up to 50 percent of IT/ITeS employees to work from home.,

Earlier, work from home was permitted for a maximum period of one year in a special economic zone unit, and it could be extended to 50 per cent of the total employees. However, it was limited to a year and was said to be challenging from a compliance perspective for companies, as they were required to submit details of employees working from home along with an “accurate attendance record”. This was believed to be an operational challenge as it was hard to tell which employee will be required at a specific time, depending on the project they were working on.

In August, the guidelines issued as part of the rules had said that if the company’s WFH scheme intended to cover 50 percent or more employees, the details of all employees intended to be covered under this, details of all eligible employees and other information had to be provided by the company. As per the new notification, the company has to maintain a list of employees who have been permitted to work from outside the SEZ, but does not have to submit the same.

In response to the new notification, industry body NASSCOM’s Head of Public Policy said the rules have been completely simplified “to allow the hybrid work model to stabilise over the next one year,” and termed it an important enabler for the IT and BPM industry.

Accenture India Chairperson Rekha Menon said, “This furthers our efforts to provide flexibility and omni-connected experiences to our people and bring in diverse talent pools for India to emerge as a global hub for digital talent.”

Sindhu Gangadharan, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of SAP Labs India said it help stabilise the hybrid model. “This will go a long way in making #hybridmodel a sustainable working reality for both – organization & employees,” she said. Moneycontrol

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