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What do you need to know about India's new Work from Home Rules?

A survey conducted at the start of 2022 revealed that 82% of employees prefer the work-from-home (WFH) setting. Even now, when the COVID cases have significantly dropped, remote work continues to be the preferred working choice for most employees.

A few reasons guide this preference. For instance, a WFH setup is flexible and convenient. It saves employees from the hassle of commuting, especially in the metropolitans. And as a result, it helps reduce day-to-day expenses. 

Keeping in mind the popularity of remote work, the ministry of commerce has come up with new guidelines to facilitate work-from-home (WFH) for employees.

This notification was received in response to the demand from the industrial sector for a country-wide policy for all special economic zones (SEZ). Several rounds of discussions were held before the final set of rules was released by the ministry of commerce and industry. 

The 43A Rule

Rule 43A is the new set of guidelines released by the ministry of commerce and industry as a part of the Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006. It defines the flexibility that would be granted to the employees of the SEZ unit. 

Rule 43A is a welcome step to assist SEZ companies in retaining their employees by offering them flexibility in terms of work structure. It broadly covers the following category of employees:

  • SEZ IT employees
  • Temporarily incapacitated employees
  • Employees that have traveling jobs
  • Employees who work on an offsite location

Currently, there are eight operational SEZ units in India, including those in Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujrat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh.

New Guidelines for Work from Home:

The new provision by the ministry has set definitive rules for WFH employees. Following are the significant incorporations:

  • WFH can be allowed for a maximum period of 1 year. It can be extended, but the SEZ unit will have to seek permission from the Development Commissioner (DC).
  • WFH provision can be allowed to a maximum of 50% of the total employees at a time, including contractual employees. The development commissioner has the flexibility to extend it beyond 50%. However, a bona fide reason must be recorded in writing for the same.
  • A transition period of 90 days has been allotted to SEZ units to seek approval before granting remote work.
  • Accurate attendance records will have to be maintained for WFH employees during the permitted duration. These records also must be submitted to DC from time to time.
  • For WFH employees, SEZ is responsible for providing the required equipment and a secure cloud platform so that the employees can perform authorized operations from their remote locations.

Who Will Be Benefitted?

Rule 43A of Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006, will benefit the industries in hiring a diverse talent pool from different geographical locations. According to a recent report, 80% of HR managers have admitted that hiring employees full-time has become increasingly tricky in the post-pandemic era. 

So, the new rule 43A is not only expected to be a boon for employees but also employers as it will reduce the overall operational cost of maintaining a working space, retaining employees, and more. 

What Could Be the Possible Challenges?

Although this rule has introduced a lot of freedom into the system, it will be a challenge for SEZ units to maintain a balance within the system. The companies will have to figure out a way to manage the other 50% of the workforce that will not be permitted to work from home.

The new rule can also lead to a difference of opinion on whether individuals working from home are eligible for tax holiday benefits. A proper clarification will be required in this case to avoid any type of tax litigation.

How Can We Help?

From hiring and managing a full-time operational team to administering a hybrid workforce, the role of the talent acquisition team is undoubtedly challenging. This is where our expertise can help you. 

With our cutting-edge technology and extensive partner network, we are one of the leading companies for labour law-compliant temp staffing and talent acquisition. You can leverage our services for your organization’s project-based and long-term needs. Our strategic service is ideal for fulfilling exclusive and contingency hiring requirements. 

Looking for a partner to cater to your diverse hiring needs? Get in touch with our experts today.