Back to WFH: Amid Omicron fears, 50% of govt staff to work from home

In an order issued by the Personnel Ministry, the government has given the nod for 50 per cent of its employees below the level of Under Secretary to work from home. Govt staff will follow staggered office timings as well

IT companies too are "rethinking" their plans to bring back 30-40 per cent of their employees back to office amid the growing number of Omicron cases

As India witnesses a sharp rise in Omicron cases, several states such as New Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal and others have clamped down on the movement of people by capping the number of people allowed to attend gatherings, imposing night curfews and permitting just 50 per cent capacity in restaurants, malls and in public places.

In the light of the significant surge in COVID-19 cases, the Centre has now released guidelines on the matter of staff attendance in government offices. Earlier, the Centre had suspended marking of biometric attendance for all its employees till January 31, as a precautionary measure to check the spread of coronavirus.

In an order issued by the Personnel Ministry dated January 3, 2022, the government has given the nod for 50 per cent of its employees below the level of Under Secretary to work from home. Employees with disabilities and pregnant women have been exempted from attending the offices, the order read. And, staggered office timings have been recommended for the staff.

“Physical attendance of government servants below the level of Under Secretary shall be restricted to 50 per cent of the actual strength and the remaining 50 per cent shall work from home,” the order said. The staff will follow staggered timings to avoid over-crowding in the office with two slots – from 9 am till 5.30 pm and 10 am till 6.30 pm.

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Also, the staff residing in COVID containment zones have also been exempted from coming to office till containment zones are de-notified, said the order issued to all central government departments.

Also read: Delhi imposes weekend curfew; WFH for govt employees

However, staff should be available on telephone or any other electronic device at all times, and meetings will be conducted through video conferencing. All staff have to comply with COVID norms like social distancing, wearing masks, sanitisation and regular hand-washing, said the order, which will be in effect till January 31.

Meanwhile, leading news websites reported that since Omicron cases are expected to peak in February, IT firms have started to “rethink” their plans to bring back at least 30 per cent of their employees back to the office.

Though, IT firms have not yet changed their plans to make at least 30-40 per cent of the employees return to offices by March in a staggered manner, they are now adopting a “wait-and-watch” mode. The firms are now watching how the COVID numbers (Omicron cases) are growing.

As of now about 8-10 per cent employees of the IT and IT-enabled services companies are going to offices. And, it is still work-from-home for the employees of IT companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS.

TCS for example has just 10 per cent of its employees working in their offices currently. Plans to return to office, which was on the anvil before Omicron struck, has been deferred now. Infosys too has said that it is taking a cautious approach about bringing back their employees back to the office.

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