On 14th July 2022 the Union Ministry of Commerce notified Rule 43A – Work from Home in Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006 for all Special Economic Zones.
As per the new notification, Work from Home may only be extended to a maximum of 50% of the total employees including contractual employees of the unit. The Development Commissioner (DC) of SEZs has been afforded flexibility in matters of approving a higher number of employees (more than 50%) for any bonafide reason to work from home, provided the reason is recorded in writing.
The notification under Rule 43A provides work from home for the following category of employees of a unit in SEZ:
i. Employees of IT/ITeS SEZ units
ii. Temporarily incapacitated employees
iii. Employees who are travelling
iv. Employees who are working offsite
Work From Home shall be allowed for a maximum period of one year. However, the said period may be extended for a period of one year at a time by the DC as per the request of the Units. For SEZ units whose employees are already working from home, a transition period of 90 days has been provided to seek further approvals.
The Ministry also said that “SEZ Units will provide equipment and secured connectivity for the purpose of WFH to perform authorized operations of the units and the permission to take out the equipment is co-terminus with the permission granted to an employee.”
Further, as per Circular F. No. DC/NSEZ/2022/WFH/ 5936, the Centre has also notified the Procedure for seeking Work from Home permission under the newly inserted provision.
The units would submit new applications for WFH, at least 15 days in advance, preferably by email, through the registered email ID of the unit, to the concerned Deputy Development Commissioner (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) with a copy to the Specified Officer concerned. However, in case, a physical copy is being submitted, a soft copy should also be provided through email. The application should contain a covering note signed by the authorized signatory of the unit mentioning the:
i. Date of permission.
ii. The total number of employees.
iii. Number of employees for whom WFH is being sought.
iv, Duration for which permission for WFH is required.
(b) The attachment with the covering note should be an excel sheet containing the following columns
i. Name and designation of Employee availing of WFH facility
ii. SEZ ID Card No. of the employee
iii. Validity/ Expiry date of the SEZ ID Card
iv. Duration for which the permission for WFH is required (in case it is different from the general duration for which permission is sought)
(c) The units would also give an undertaking on their letterhead through an authorized signatory that they would follow all the conditions and stipulations laid down in the new Rule 43A of SEZ Rules, 2006.