Government eases rules for tech firms to promote ‘work from anywhere’

The new set of regulations for "Other Service Providers" (OSPs) has been framed with a clear objective to remove reporting and other obligations for such companies in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic

The government wants to provide a strong impetus to the ITeS/BPO industry and put India on the world map as a competitive IT jurisdiction.

The Centre will encourage business process outsourcing (BPO) and IT-enabled services (ITES) companies to keep employees away from office spaces by reducing their compliance burden and facilitate “work from home” (WFH) and “work from anywhere”.

The new set of regulations for “Other Service Providers” (OSPs) has been framed with a clear objective to remove reporting and other obligations for such companies in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic where people are advised not to step out of house unless absolutely necessary.

What constitutes OSPs?

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These are companies that provide application services, IT-enabled services besides outsourcing services using telecom resources. It is a term that encompasses BPOs, KPOs (Knowledge Process Outsourcing), IT-ES, call centres, etc.

What do the new mean?

The government wants to provide a strong impetus to the ITeS/BPO industry and put India on the world map as a competitive IT jurisdiction.

While complying with the new regulations, companies will find it convenient to provide their employees the benefit of “work from home” and “work from anywhere”.

According to the new rules:

  1. Now, OSPs can operate without the mandatory registration process, especially the BPOs that are engaged in data-related work.

2. The government has done away with requirements like bank guarantees, static IPs, frequent reporting of obligations, publication of network diagram and penal provisions.

3. The government has proactively provided additional dispensations to enhance flexibility in work.

4. Remove “unnecessary bureaucratic restrictions” in order to allow the industry to focus on innovative new products and solutions.

Also read: How your ‘work from home’ may reduce property prices sharply

A press release issued by the government read, “The reform will certainly unleash the potential of our talented youth by making India as a preferred destination for Information and Knowledge Outsourcing Industry and would further the vision of ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Friday morning about the new regulations: “India’s IT sector is our pride. The prowess of this sector is recognised globally. We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure a conducive environment for growth and innovation in India. Today’s decisions will especially encourage young talent in the sector!”

Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted, “Today @narendramodi Govt has taken a major reform initiative to liberalize the regulatory regime for “Other Service Provider”. This will boost the IT/ ITeS/ BPO industry and create a friendly regime for Work from Home in India.”

Nasscom reaction

Nasscom senior director and public policy head Ashish Aggarwal said, “These will provide several benefits… India is a global outsourcing hub and the new guidelines will promote outsourcing at scale, bringing in more work to India. With the relaxations in WFH regulations, companies will be able to tap into talent from small towns and remote parts of the country.”

IT companies and WFH

ITeS majors like the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro are already allowing up to 99 per cent of their staff to work from home (WFH) with an aim to maintain social distancing and for business continuity.

HCL is reportedly considering getting nearly 20 per cent of its employees back on work premises on a rotational basis by December. Tech Mahindra mentioned that about one-fourth of the company’s employees are already back in their offices across multiple locations.

US online retail behemoth Amazon last week allowed its corporate staff to WFH through June 2021. Earlier, Alphabet Inc.’s Google had announced that its employees would WFH until July 2021.

Facebook and Twitter have allowed some employees to move to remote work permanently if they choose.

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