Government extends 'Work from Home' for IT firms till 2020-end
With rising coronavirus cases overwhelming the medical infrastructure, the government has, once again, decided to relax remote working norms for IT companies and BPOs. On Tuesday, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said employees can work from home till December 31, 2020. The earlier relaxations provided by the government, when India was locked down, was scheduled to end on July 31. Here are more details.
In July, India has seen an exponential rise in coronavirus cases. Last Friday, the tally crossed the one million mark, a grim milestone touched by only three countries — Brazil, the US, and India. The country is now nearing the 12 lakh (1.2 million) mark and nearly 29,000 have died of the virus. With the economy re-opened, the surge in cases is hardly surprising.
To recall, a complete lockdown was enforced in India on March 25, which was extended thrice. It was only in June that the government let almost all services resume. During the lockdown, companies tried new ways of remaining functional, with the government's help. Earlier, the offices' VPN networks weren't allowed to be connected to a home infrastructure, but the government provided due relaxation.
Now, in a late-night tweet on Tuesday, DoT said the relaxation norms will be extended till December 31. "DoT has further extended the relaxations in the terms and conditions for other service providers up to 31st December 2020 to facilitate work from home in view of the ongoing concern due to COVID-19," the post read. Nearly 85% of the IT force is working remotely.
According to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), 90% of employees of all major IT companies are already working from home. Earlier this month, the body wrote to Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), a body set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in 1991 to promote the IT sector, praying that some relaxations must be given permanently.
"While the current permissions have served the need well in the temporary context, the industry is now looking at enabling work from home on a permanent basis for a certain percentage of employees especially in the post-COVID-19 era," NASSCOM wrote in the letter.
Naturally, DoT's decision was lauded by NASSCOM. Its President Debjani Ghosh thanked Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for supporting IT companies. "This will ensure business continuity, employee safety, and increase the sector's talent pool in tier-two and -three cities," Ghosh said. Wipro chief Rishad Premji wrote, "Thank you to the government for their tremendous support on the new ways of working from day one."