IT, BPO Employees Will Work From Home Till July 31; Data Regulations Eased For All
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant nation-wide lockdown,the government has announced extension of the relaxed connectivity norms for ‘Work From Home’ (WFH), applicable on IT and BPO companies, till July 31.
Read to find out more…
What is the Fuss About?
Earlier on April 28, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters, “I have relaxed norms for working from home…it was to end on April 30, I have extended it to July 31”.
In March, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had relaxed certain norms for Other Service Providers (OSP) till April 30 to facilitate WFH amid the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline for the relaxed norms for WFH was to end on April 30.
Industry body Nasscom said the decision to extend the timelines on relaxed norms for OSPs to facilitate WFH will help IT and BPO firms plan their strategy of bringing back workforce to offices, in a gradual and phased manner.
Nasscom Senior Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer Sangeeta Gupta said, “Given that work-from-home is going to be a new normal for sometime, the decision to extend timelines is a welcome move. It will help companies plan their return-to-office strategy in a phased manner. Now that the deadline is being extended to July, companies too can plan their workforce returning to office, in the same way.”
What are the Relaxed Norms?
Earlier, companies were not allowed to connect office Virtual Private Network to home infrastructure. In the due course this rule was relaxed in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, over 90% of the IT workforce is working from home and only those performing critical functions are going to offices.
The relaxed regulations include exemptions in requirement of security deposit and agreement for WFH facility for OSPs (primarily IT and IT-enabled services companies).
Strategies by the Govt to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges!
The meeting attended by chief ministers of Haryana and Sikkim, deputy chief ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, who are also in charge of the IT department in their respective states also discussed COVID-19 challenges, tech innovations and roadmap for the IT and electronics sector.
IT Minister Prasad also urged states’ IT ministers to move swiftly and promote electronics manufacturing through pro-investment initiatives, to tap a ‘great opportunity’ that now entices India, in view of changing business dynamics due to COVID-19. The minister also underlined the government’s commitment to promote electronics manufacturing, in a big way.
The minister also directed that data from Aarogya Setu app should be made available online to the states right up-to district officials, in line with suggestions made by states. Prasad said states have been highly-appreciative of the Aarogya Setu app, and that a similar solution for feature phones is in the works, and will be launched shortly.
While speaking to reporters, Prasad said his ministry is constantly monitoring spread of fake news on social media platforms and that companies have told the government of strong progress they have made in removing such content. He cautioned that any inaction by companies in clamping down on fake news would be met with consequences at the Centre and state levels, as well as police action.
The minister also said that the products coming from particularly China, should be subject to stringent security audit and verification. Prasad said replying to a specific query on India’s stance on Chinese products, “One thing is clear… we are not against any country, we are only pro-India, we are committed to India and will take measures to create opportunities for India. As regards security initiative…any product coming from any country, particularly China, we expect proper security audit and verification.”
The IT Minister noted that three schemes- Production Linked Incentive 2.0, Electronics Manufacturing Clusters, and Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) – have been notified by the Centre in order to attract investments in the electronics manufacturing sector, and appealed to states to supplement these with their schemes.