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Work from home: IT seeks changes in laws

New Delhi | Bengaluru | Pune: India’s IT sector is seeking revisions in the country’s taxation and labour laws as over half the workforce in the $191bn industry could begin to deliver services remotely as part of the changes being wrought by the ongoing pandemic.

The reported that a meeting with government officials earlier in May, IT industry leaders, who estimated that close to 50 per cent of the country’s 4.3 million IT workers will soon work from home, were asked to detail the legislative changes required to facilitate this significant transition.

Industry body Nasscom has been tasked with preparing a detailed report, after which “it will (go) to relevant ministries such as department of telecom and the labour ministry for action,” a top government official told ET.

The industry has also requested the government to make permanent several recent concessions extended until July, including relaxation of telecom regulations that allow back-office companies to work from home and move equipment out from designated special economic zones to facilitate remote working.

“There are a whole host of things you need to start relooking at when this (work from home) becomes the new norm,” said UB Pravin Rao, chief operating officer of Infosys.

“Some of the labour laws may not cater to a work-from-home environment, so (we) need to start looking through a fresh lens,” said Rao, who is also the chairman of Nasscom.

Nasscom is currently reviewing labour laws from the WFH perspective and will be sending a report to the government by next week.

Officials are of the view that labour laws should be amended in a way to safeguard employees while also providing flexibility to employers.

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“Once work from home is enabled at a large scale, people may want to work for only a certain number of hours a day, as opposed to the norm of eight  hours a day; this could benefit women, university students and handicapped greatly,” said a government official adding that “work is going on to thrash out the details currently”.

India’s IT industry contributes eight per cent  to the country’s gross domestic product and has a 46 per cent  share in the country’s services exports, the lobby said in February.

The country’s software exports stood at $147bn in fiscal year 2020.


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