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Work from home: Centre's new rules explained

New rule allows companies in special economic zones to have employees work from home for one year

Another spike in covid-19 cases has everyone on alert. Work from home seems here to stay. (iStock)

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Over the past two years, work from home has become a reality for most organisations. On Tuesday, the commerce ministry issued new guidelines for work from home (WFH) for offices in special economic zones (SEZ). 

It introduced a new rule 43A for WFH in Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006. It says that work from home is allowed for a maximum period of one year in a special economic zone unit and can be extended to 50 per cent of total employees. It specifies the work from home guidelines a certain category of employees within SEZs.

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The ministry said the notification was issued on demand from the industry to make a provision for a countrywide uniform WFH policy across all Special Economic Zones (SEZs), reports PTI. 

Who does the new rule apply to?

The employees that this rule applies to includes: employees of IT/ITeS SEZ units; employees who are temporarily incapacitated; employees, who are travelling and who are working offsite. 

WFH may be extended to a maximum of 50 per cent of total employees, including contractual employees of the unit, the notification said. 

It also said that the Development Commissioner of SEZs can approve work from home for a higher number of employees (over 50 per cent) but the reason has to be recorded in writing. "Work From Home is now allowed for a maximum period of one year. However, same may further be extended for a period of one year at a time by the DC on the request of units," the notification said.

For companies whose employees are already working from home, the notification provides a transition period of 90 days to seek approval from the DC. "SEZ units will provide equipment and secured connectivity for the purpose of WFH to perform authorised operations of the units and the permission to take out the equipment is co-terminus with the permission granted to an employee," it said. 

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