SEZ employees can work from home after DoT nod

Employees at leading IT-BPO companies have been given a go-ahead to work from home, according to a notification by the Department of Telecom and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).

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New Delhi: Employees at leading IT-BPO companies have been given a go-ahead to work from home, according to a notification by the Department of Telecom and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). This was a key demand of the IT-BPO industry following the Covid-19 pandemic. Industry association Nasscom has been in talks with the government for more than a week to allow employees of units operating from special economic zones (SEZs) to work from home. In a notification on Friday, the Department of Telecom decided to allow employees operating from SEZs to work from home till April 30. The STPI notification was issued on Thursday and is likely to benefit close to 2 million employees across 3,000 units.

Companies will have to inform STPI and DoT before asking employees to shift the necessary infrastructure out of office, such as laptops, in order to operate from home. “Three years ago, we incorporated a provision in the foreign trade policy to allow work from home. Since the provision was already there, we issued a blanket approval yesterday to implement the policy, given the current circumstances,” STPI director-general Omkar Rai told ET. The waiver is likely to benefit employees of BPO companies more. However, it is as yet unclear how many employees had availed of the facility.

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ET reported last week that Nasscom had asked the government to relax rules to allow work-from home for technology and back office staff as a measure to deal with the spread of the Covid-19 virus in India, at least for a month. Nasscom had written a letter to the Department of Telecom secretary Anshu Prakash, saying that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had recommended removing restrictions around work from home last year after a consultation process.

The letter requested the government's "urgent intervention" to waive-off the conditions as an emergency measure for a month, following which the government may take a call depending on the public health situation at that time. Nasscom had another meeting with DoT on Friday on the issue. The DoT notification said that companies will have to maintain logs for all 'extended agent positions' for one year.
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