The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that flexibility can thrive both employers and employees and thanks to the rapid acceptance of internet-based tools during the pandemic era,Employers need to prioritize hybrid working at the forefront of their talent strategy since remote working is the new currency for attracting and keeping talent.
The government issued The Special Economic Zone Rules, 2006 further amended by notification from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, dated July 14, 2022. Significantly,Inserted Rule 43A Work from home (WFH) for employees by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to improve the convenience and flexibility of the remote working culture. The amendment is the welcoming step and addresses the long-standing demand of the IT/ITES Sector.
Category of Employees Covered
According to Ministry of Commerce and Industry the following employees, including contractual workers, are qualified for WFH or the option to work from anywhere outside of a Special Economic Zone;
- Employees of the IT and ITES Special Economic Zone units
- Employees, who are temporarily incapacitated;
- Employees, who are travelling; and
- Employees, who are working offsite;
- The Unit must submit its request for permission to work from home to the Development Commissioner via email or paper application. This proposal must include all of the terms and conditions, including the start date for using the permission to work from home and the information about the employees who will be covered by this permission.
- Every request for authorization to work from home or application for a renewal of authorization must be submitted to the Development Commissioner at least fifteen days beforehand, except in cases when an employee is temporarily incapacitated or on the road.
- Within ninety days of the Special Economic Zones (Third Amendment) Rules’ effective date in 2022, Unit whose employees are working from home or from any other location outside the Special Economic Zone must submit a request for approval to the Development Commissioner.
- The approval shall be granted for the period of one year, The DC may further renew the approval for period not exceeding one year at a time, subject to the provision of this rule by the unit and its employees.
- The Unit shall maintain accurate attendance records for the duration of the permission for work from home and shall periodically submit them to the Development Commissioner. The proposal for work from home shall cover a maximum of fifty percent of the total employees, including contractual employees, of the Unit.
- The DC is empowered to approve a higher number of employees for WFH for any bonafide reason to be recorded in writing.
- With the prior approval of the Specified Officer, the Unit may provide to an employee such goods, including laptops, computers, video projection systems, other electronic equipment, and secured connectivity (for virtual private networks, virtual desktop infrastructure), in order to connect the employee to work associated with the unit’s project.
- Further, the units will be required to comply with the following conditions:-
- The unit is required to account for temporarily withdrawn products.
- The unit shall issue a certificate authorising the employee by name and specifying all pertinent information, including the serial number, model number, and make of the equipment intended to be taken outside the processing area temporarily. A copy of the certificate shall be endorsed to the Specified Officer, and the unit shall acknowledge receipt of the certificate.
- To maintain record of the certificate of authorization issued for the removal of equipment.
- As per Rule 70(2) Employee shall be un- tagged from the Unit when such person cease to be a part of the project and the identity card of the employee shall be surrendered by the Unit.
Despite of speculations Rule 43A is a delicately balanced move that takes into account the needs of developers and units in the SEZ.There might be further clarification issued by the department as and when required.
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