Covid-19: Govts must build comprehensive work from home policies, says Union labour secretary Apurva Chandra

By: |
June 27, 2021 4:30 AM

Delivering his concluding speech before the Governing Body in Geneva, Chandra said many employers were exploring options of WFH and also as a long-term opportunity to supplement present work arrangements, with a view to mitigate the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic.

Union labour secretary Apurva Chandra (right)

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments must seek to build comprehensive work from home (WFH) policies, Union labour secretary Apurva Chandra, who completed his tenure as Chair of the Governing Body of International Labour Organisation (ILO) on June 25, said.

Chandra handed over the Chair to ambassador Anna Jardfelt, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations Office in Geneva. India had assumed chairmanship of the governing body of ILO after a gap of 35 years for the period from October 2020 to June, 2021.

Delivering his concluding speech before the Governing Body in Geneva, Chandra said many employers were exploring options of WFH and also as a long-term opportunity to supplement present work arrangements, with a view to mitigate the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic.

“As member countries of ILO, committed to promoting rights at work, encouraging decent employment opportunities and enhancing social protection, governments in consultation with national workers’ and employers’ representatives must seek to build comprehensive WFH policies,” Chandra said.

The ILO has already devised international standards in form of Convention (177) and Recommendation (184) that regulates WFH in a comprehensive manner.

Through a draft model standing orders for services, manufacturing and mining sectors simultaneously issued on December 31 last year, the Indian labour ministry had proposed to formalise WFH facility for the services sector alone, but left the manufacturing and mining sectors outside the ambit of the concept for now. The draft is yet to be finalised.

Regarding the proliferation of gig and platform, which has been reshaping labour processes and transforming the future of work and associated rights of workers involved, Chandra emphasised the role of ILO in “devising flexible standards that support progressive realisation of rights of gig and platform workers in a phased manner.”

Chandra also suggested that the ILO may consider including some amount of flexibility in the conventions to suit the national circumstances of the member countries. “This will perhaps improve the number of ratifications by member countries,” he said.

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