Following an amendment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Rules, 2006, provision has been made to allow work from home option to up to 50 per cent of the staff, including contractual staff at the SEZ units.
The Commerce & Industry Ministry has incorporated the new rule, 43A, to this effect. As per the rule, half of the employees may work from home. Permission may be granted for more too, provided valid reasons are given in writing to the development commissioner.
Many information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services companies have their offices in these SEZs. Most have observed that a significant section of their workforce is keen to work from home or adopt the hybrid model. However, with regulations being unclear and varying from region to region, many companies were forcing their employees to return to office. With this amendment, there will be some consistency when it comes to WFH norms in units located in the SEZ across India.
With this favourable change in the rule book, it is expected that companies will be able to offer flexible / hybrid work options to lure quality talent. This will also impact the demand for leased space at various technology parks.
Clarity is yet to be obtained on whether 50 per cent of the capacity of an individual unit or whether 50 per cent of the total strength of the workforce would be eligible for flexible options.
The WFH will be approved for a year, and then may be extended for a year at a time. However, SEZ units will need to keep track of the attendance and even produce these records for the regulator whenever asked to.