15 May, 2020 10:46a.m.

Work from home - Details of draft guidelines

Central government employees may have to work with staggered attendance and variable working hours, as per a draft framework for ‘work for home’ for the staff post-lockdown by the Personnel Ministry, PTI reported today. It said that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) may provide the work from home option to eligible officers/staff for 15 days in a year as a matter of policy. If implemented, work from home rules will affect around 48.34 lakh employees. The Personnel Ministry has informed all government departments that the Coronavirus pandemic has necessitated many ministries to operate from home to maintain social distancing.

“Many of the ministries/departments in Government of India have successfully managed and rendered exemplary results in combat against the ongoing pandemic outbreak during the lockdown period by leveraging e-office and video conferencing facilities of National Informatics Centre (NIC). This was the first-of-its-kind experience in the Government of India,” the DoPT said.

Further, the central secretariat may have to continue with staggered attendance and variable working hours to maintain social distancing at the workplace in the near future. “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,” the DoPT said.

New SOPs

The ministry has finalised a new set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the employees to ensure smooth and seamless functioning of the government for continuity of the office works besides imparting resilience in the ecosystem even post lockdown situations. The Central Government Employees will be provided with the logistic supports in the form of laptop/ desktop by the respective ministries/departments.

“Ministries may use the inventory of laptops on a rotational basis for the officers who are working from home and needed such logistic support,” the draft guidelines said. The employees working from home may also get reimbursement for internet services that they would use while working from home.

“Department of Expenditure may consider reimbursement for data uses to the officers working from home and if required may issue separate guidelines in this regards,” the draft guidelines said.

Extra protocol for all VIP matters

The draft guidelines have proposed extra protocol for all VIP and Parliament matters that require utmost attention. “Therefore, SMS alerts be sent for all such receipts and files to the next officer in the channel,” it said.

As per the draft guidelines, ministries/departments concerned, who are not yet using the e-office module, would make an endeavour for its expeditious implementation in their secretariat, attached and subordinate offices in a “time-bound manner”.

Classified files

At present, about 75 ministries/departments are actively using the e-office platform of which 57 have achieved more than 80 per cent of their work. E-office refers to digitization/computerization of office working. However, “classified papers/files” cannot be processed while working from home.

“As per instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs no classified information shall be handled through e-office. Therefore, classified files shall not be processed in e-office during work from home,” it said.

The NIC may evaluate the existing security protocol for remote access of classified file/ information in consultation with Home Ministry and propose suitable guidelines and standard operating procedures for handling classified information in e-office, the guidelines said. “Till the time classified files shall be processed on standalone computers only as specified in the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure (CSMOP),” it said.

The Personnel Ministry also said the officers to whom official laptops are provided shall ensure that they do the official work in an official device only.

The DoPT has asked all central government departments to send their comments by May 21, failing which it would be presumed that the “ministry/department is in agreement with the proposed draft.

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