The department of telecommunications has extended the government permission for information technology (IT) companies to enable their employees to work from home from the earlier April 30 deadline to July 31. The decision follows the meeting of central information and broadcasting and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's video conference meeting with the state IT ministers.
"Central government would extend the dept. of telecommunication’s deadline on the relaxation of the norms for the ‘work from home’ from 30 April to 31 July 2020," a statement issued by the ministry said. Companies operating inside notified special economic zones require prior government permission to enable employees in those campuses to work from home.
The $190 billion Indian IT industry enables the proper functioning of the core infrastructure of essential services such as hospitals, power, banking and financial services, and even governance and information services across the world. The sector has been recognised as an essential service by the government despite the 40-day lockdown that started in late March.
However, most companies including the multinationals that operate in the country, have enabled WFH for more than 90% of their employees.
A fortnight ago, in line with the central ministry of home affairs (MHA) advisory, the national association of software and service companies (NASSCOM) had asked member organisations to restart operations from offices in a phased manner.
While the MHA has permitted IT and information technology-enabled services (ITeS) companies to function with 50% staff strength from April 20, the industry lobby body recommended that the lockdown exit strategy be implemented across 15-day cycles.
In phase one, set to begin from April 15 till April 30, companies must allow only 10-15% of their workforce to travel to the office, NASSCOM had said. The second phase may be initiated for 20-30% of the workforce between May 1 and May 15 and in the third phase, from May 15 to May 30, companies can allow 30-50% of employees to work from offices, the organisation had recommended.
In early March, NASSCOM started lobbying with the government to allow flexibility in specific policies for IT companies working out of special economic zones and software technology parks of India to allow employees to work from home.
The Covid-19 pandemic might help IT companies and their customers to get more comfortable with outsourcing their work to remote locations, several industry watchers told TechCircle.