Coronavirus lockdown | IT industry pushes to recast labour, tax rules for work-from-home model: Report

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The information technology (IT) industry has approached the central government ministries to flesh out changes to taxation and labour laws in line with the work-from-home (WFH) model.

While the coronavirus pandemic forced offices to migrate to WFH, many are expected to continue this even once a solution for the current health crisis emerges. At least 4.3 million IT workers or half the sector’s workforce would WFH permanently, estimates say.

Industry leaders were asked to detail the changes required when they met with government officials in early May. NASSCOM is preparing a report outlining an action plan, which is expected to be sent next week, The Economic Times reported.

It will go to the Department of Telecom and the Labour Ministry for further action, a government official told the paper.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.

The amendments would have to take into account employee safeguards while providing employers with flexibility. This could benefit students, women and the disabled, officials said.

Besides new provisions for WFH, the industry also requested that concessions given till July be made permanent. These include the relaxation in telecom norms allowing back office employees to WFH and allowing equipment to be moved from special economic zones (SEZs) to remote-working facilities, it added.

UB Pravin Rao, COO at Infosys and Chairman of NASSCOM, told the paper that there were “a host of things to relook” and that some labour laws would have to be reworked from a “fresh lens” to cater to the WFH environment.

Ashish Aggarwal, the senior director and head of public policy at NASSCOM, felt that updates would be needed to allow flexible work hours and shift timings, and specify employer obligations in terms of health and safety measures as home may become “the new workplace”.

Aggarwal added that reviewed IT provisions would have to reclassify benefits to workers – such as office furniture, internet connection, etc. from expenses to employers to business expenses.

The IT industry has been quick to adapt, with 90 percent of the sector’s workers now working from home. TCS is looking at moving 75 percent of its workforce to remote model by 2025 while HCL Technologies has proposed to move 50 percent staff to remote model, with the rest on rotational basis. Tech Mahindra may start with 25 percent WFH and then expand, CEO CP Gurnani said.

source: moneycontrol

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