India’s federal government has circulated a consultation paper to all its ministries and departments seeking their comments on changes in working regulations ahead of a gradual lifting of the lockdown from next week. The paper has sought comments from federal ministries on staggered working hours to maintain social distancing in workplaces and offices.
“It is quite likely that for the near future, the Central Secretariat will continue to go for staggered attendance and variable working hours to maintain social distancing at workplace. Therefore, a broad framework for Work from Home is important to standardize the operating procedure even post-lockdown situation and to ensure safety and security of information, while accessing Government files and information remotely from home,” said the federal Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
All federal government offices have been closed since 25 March following the enforcement of a national lockdown. However, senior functionaries of the federal government have returned to work since the start of May.
Several ministries and departments of the federal government have used e-office and video conferencing facilities to keep the flow of essential work during the lockdown. “This was the first of its kind of experience in the Government of India,” said the ministry, adding that the government may “provide the option to Work from Home to eligible officers/staff for 15 days in a year.”
The lockdown was enforced to contain the spread of COVID-19, which was first detected in the country on 30 January. Since then, the infection has seen 78,003 cases and 2,549 deaths, according to data released by the federal Health Ministry.