New work from home rules in 2021? Govt readies proposal to formalise WFH facility for services sector

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Updated: March 16, 2021 11:40 AM

For the manufacturing sector, the standing order governing work conditions was applicable in organisations having 100 or more workers until last year.

However, regulatory parameters for WFH have not been prescribed.However, regulatory parameters for WFH have not been prescribed.

The government has proposed to formalise work from home (WFH) facility for the services sector, but left the manufacturing sector outside the ambit of the concept for now. “Subject to conditions of appointment or agreement between employer and workers, employer may allow a worker to work from home for such period or periods as may be determined by the employer,” the labour ministry said in the draft model standing orders for the services sector. However, regulatory parameters for WFH have not been prescribed.

Separately, it has also issued draft model standing orders for the manufacturing and the mining sectors seeking comments from stakeholders.

Model standing orders set standards for service conditions and employees’ conduct in an establishment. There are no such standards for the services sector so far, it is being proposed for the first time. These standing orders will be applicable in organisations having 300 or more workers.

For the manufacturing sector, the standing order governing work conditions was applicable in organisations having 100 or more workers until last year. The threshold has been increased to 300 workers in the labour code on industrial relations approved in Parliament late last year.

Labour expert K R Shyam Sundar said, “Without proper regulations for WFH, employees will be left at the mercy of the employers. Employees’ bargaining power will be reduced. WFH should also figure in the model standing orders for the manufacturing sector. The concept of WFH should be left for the individual establishment to decide, whether it is in the manufacturing or in the services sector.”

Rajiv Kapoor, member, CII national committee on industrial relations, also said, “Manufacturing should also be given the WFH facility, but I would suggest that it should be left to the discretion of an individual organisation, be it in the manufacturing or in the services sector. With the advent of digitisation and technology, lot of jobs in the manufacturing sector can now also be done from specially design and other office works.”

The standing orders for both manufacturing and services sectors prescribe that a worker may be suspended by the employer pending investigation or enquiry into complaints or charges of misconduct against him. Misconduct includes sleeping on duty and acceptance of gifts from sub-ordinates among others. However, such investigation or enquiry, shall be ordinarily completed within ninety days from the date of suspension. The worker shall be paid subsistence allowance during the period of suspension, provided the worker does not take any employment elsewhere during the period of suspension.

Wage payment shall be done through electronic mode and within the seventh day of the wage period in respect of which wages are payable. A worker can be transferred from one state to another according to the transfer policy and exigencies of work from one shop or department to another or from one station to another or from one industrial establishment to another under the same employer. The concerned employee should be given reasonable time to join and be paid travelling allowance including the transport charges.

All sets of workers — permanent, temporary, apprentices, probationers, badlis and fixed term employment — will have to wear an identity badge or card bearing his full name, employee number, blood group, mobile number, if any, and a recent photograph.

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