Government Plans on New Work Structure: The central government is reportedly working out a comprehensive plan to frame a legal structure that is aimed to define the liability of employers for employees who work from home. The working from home culture has seen a significant rise not only in India, but also globally, since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic emerged and changed the course of life for every individual. With office work future seeming bleak with newer variants of the coronavirus being detected, remote working has become the way to go and is possibly here to stay for a longer while. The detection of the Omicron variant of coronavirus recently has also impacted how employees attend work without going back to their office desks.
According to a report published in the Economic Times, the central government’s idea is to chalk out a legal framework meant for the new models of work that have resulted out of the pandemic situation. This includes the work from home model as well as the hybrid work model where employees have to go to the office for a certain number of days in a week. Companies have been following these models of work to protect their employees from the coronavirus, a highly infectious virus that has resulted in the pandemic. The government’s plan was confirmed by some people in the know, the ET report suggested.
The Centre is considering fixing work hours for employees and payment of additional expenses incurred by them for internet and electricity due to working from home, as part of the move.
According to a top government official quoted by the news organisation, the central government has started discussions to ascertain rules where the country can regulate work from home as this model is likely to remain in the future.
“A consultancy firm is being roped in to determine ‘future of work’ in the backdrop of the pandemic and the benefits it brings to stakeholders,” said the official, whose name was not disclosed in the report. The new structure will be asked to be followed by all sectors, the official added.
The government’s likely move comes months after other countries have started to impose such laws. Portugal recently passed a law towards greater protections employees working away from their offices. The Indian government, too, had in January formalised the already implemented work for home structure for the services sector. This allowed the employers and employees mutually decide the working hours. The move was seen as a token exercise, however. This is because services sectors had already been following the rules under the pandemic situation.
Some employers had however expressed their intent to bring back their employees to offices as the Covid-19 threat seemed to have subsided with the reeling effect of the Delta variant, before the Omicron variant emerged. However, that seems to be far from reality as India is seeing more and more Omicron variant cases everyday, which is likely to have a higher transmissibility rate than its deadly predecessor.
The five-day work week also does not seem to be an option anymore, at least in the days ahead. In a survey conducted by the OECD, where 25 countries participated, it was found that both employees and managers opined that working from home had a positive impact on them in terms of performance and well being.