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Will ‘Work From Home’ Become The New Normal For Government Employees In India?

The Ministry has hinted that they might introduce 'Work From Home' policy and flexible working hours to maintain social distancing at the workplace post lockdown.

Lockdown has forced companies to ask their employees to work from home. But will ‘Work From Home’ become the new normal post lockdown? Well, it may happen for the central government employees. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) may provide an option for work from home to the eligible officers/staff for 15 days in a year as a matter of policy.

Currently, there are 48.34 lakh central government employees. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, several ministries are operating from home to maintain social distancing.

“Many of the ministries/departments in the Government of India have successfully managed and rendered exemplary results in combat against the ongoing pandemic outbreak during the lockdown period by leveraging e-office and video conferencing facilities of National Informatics Centre (NIC). This was the first-of-its-kind experience in the Government of India,” it said.

The Ministry has hinted that they might introduce ‘Work From Home’ policy and flexible working hours to maintain social distancing at the workplace.

“Therefore, a broad framework for work from home is important to standardize the operating procedure even post lockdown situation and to ensure safety and security of information, while accessing government files and information remotely from home,” it said.

The draft guidelines further mentions, “Ministries may use the inventory of laptops on rotational basis for the officers who are working from home and needed such logistic support. Department of Expenditure may consider reimbursement for data uses to the officers working from home and if required may issue separate guidelines in this regards.”

This means, the employees will not have to be worried about the logistics such as laptops and the reimbursement of internet services will also be given.

Now comes the concern about confidential information dealt with by the government employees. For this, the guidelines said, “As per instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs no classified information shall be handled through e-office. Therefore, classified files shall not be processed in e-office during work from home. Till the time classified files shall be processed on standalone computers only as specified in the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure. NIC shall ensure that their devices are well protected against malware and malicious websites. The officers who are working on their personal computers/ laptops shall ensure installing regular updates, running antivirus scans, blocking malicious sites, etc with the help of NIC to ensure safety of their device against information theft.”

It further said that the officers working from home shall be available on phone as per requirements. Video conferencing facilities will be leveraged to organise important meetings.

Well, it is just a proposed draft. All central government departments have been asked to send their comments by May 21, failure of which would be presumed that the “ministry/department is in agreement with the proposed draft.

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