ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Regulatory Myopia of ‘Work from Home’

Work from home cannot be isolated from other types of work taking place in the home.


“Work from home” (WfH) finds mention in the draft model standing orders for the service sector, released by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment on 31 December 2020. Applicable to establishments employing more than 300 workers, Section 10 of the draft states that “subject to conditions of appointment or agreement between employers and workers, employer may allow a worker to work from home for such period or periods as may be determined by employer.” While 2020 saw a hurried passage of the controversial labour codes, 2021 appears to mark the operationalisation of the new labour regime. Many have applauded a separate draft for the service sector and consider the inclusion of WfH as recognition of the changing nature of work, hastened by the contingencies of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, before welcoming this inclusion, WfH needs to be interrogated, recognising the fault lines through which it threatens workers’ rights and entitlements, while continuing to ignore the various precarities that “work” and “home” represent.

In May 2020, NASSCOM proposed a set of recommendations to accommodate WfH for the information technology (IT) sector. These included flexibility in choosing working hours and weekly offs, and exemption from registration where 100% of the employees are working from home. In fact, it suggests complete exemption of the IT sector from standing orders, stating that in a flexible work regime, service conditions change regularly, making certifications expensive. Section 5 of the draft echoes this: “in case of IT Sector, the working hour shall be as per agreement or conditions of appointment between employer and workers.”

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Updated On : 16th Jan, 2021
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