The commerce ministry is considering a proposal to further relax the guidelines and allow 100% work from home facility for employees of units in special economic zones covering all the sectors, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.
The proposal, once approved, can help in creating job opportunities in smaller cities like Rajkot and Una, the minister added. “It is in the interest of the country to allow work from home,” he said.
In July, the ministry had notified rules to allow up to 50% employees of SEZ units to work from home (WFH) for up to a year, subject to certain conditions.
This was to benefit those working in the IT and ITeS sector, among others. Prior to this, the government had allowed the WFH facility after the pandemic broke out.
After a meeting of the board of trade on Tuesday, Goyal said his ministry has received requests from several quarters to further relax the WFH guidelines on the ground that people are still reluctant to come to offices regularly, given the Covid risks.
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“We had permitted work from home in SEZ units during the pandemic. It was appreciated by all and it also helped in pushing our services exports,” Goyal said. Services exports hit a record $254 billion in FY22 and the government expects such exports to rise further this fiscal. As many as 426 SEZs have been granted formal approval under the SEZ Act, 2005, and 33 in-principle clearance. But only 268 of them remained operational as of September 30, 2021. As of March 2021, SEZs across the country employed as many as 2.36 million people.