Work from home to be a new normal! Govt drafts guidelines
Not only private firms, but even the Government departments are set to adopt “work from home” practice soon to ensure social distancing norms till the coronavirus pandemic is checked.
A draft guideline in this regard has been circulated by the Department of Personnel Ministry to all Central Government Departments asking them to send their comments by May 21.
According to the draft, the Government may provide option for work from home to the eligible officers and staff for 15 days in a year as a matter of policy. Employees will be provided with logistic support in the form of laptops or desktops by the respective Ministries or Departments and employees will be reimbursed for internet services that they would use while working from home.
However, the draft makes it clear that papers marked “classified or secret” will not be processed while working from home for the time being till the National Informatics Centre (NIC) evaluates existing security protocol for remote access of classified files and information in consultation with Home Ministry and propose suitable guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for handling such material on e-office.
The officials, working from home, have to be dressed properly and maintain all norms of office environment while attending video-conference during and after the ongoing lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are 48.34 lakh Central Government employees. Preparing for life amid Covid-19, the Ministry said the steps were being initiated because the virus necessitated many Ministries to operate from home to maintain social distancing. 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, the Ministry said.
“Many of the Ministries and departments in Government have successfully managed and rendered exemplary results in fight against the ongoing pandemic outbreak during the lockdown period by leveraging e-office and video conferencing facilities of NIC. This was the first of its kind of experience in Government of India,” it said.
The draft has given broad SOPs that will ensure smooth and seamless functioning of the Government for continuity of the office works besides imparting resilience in the ecosystem even in post-lockdown situation.
“Therefore, a broad framework for work from home is important to standardise the operating procedure even post-lockdown situation and to ensure safety and security of information, while accessing government files and information remotely from home,” it said.
“Department of Expenditure may consider reimbursement for data uses to the officers working from home and if required may issue separate guidelines in this regard,” the draft 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 said the officers to whom official laptops are provided shall ensure that they do the official work on the official device only.
“The NIC shall ensure that their devices are well protected against malware and malicious websites. The officers who are working on their personal computers or laptops shall ensure installing regular updates, running antivirus scans, blocking malicious sites, etc with the help of NIC to ensure safety of their device against information theft,” the proposed guidelines said.
It is also proposed to have an 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.
Friday, 15 May 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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