Units in a special economic zone that want to allow working from home for employees will have to formulate a scheme and get approval from the relevant development commissioners, the Commerce Ministry said Friday.
In July, the government authorized WFH in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) unit for a period of up to one year. The facility can be expanded to 50 percent of the total number of employees.
The ministry’s guidelines state that the units must also submit an application to their development commissioners, stating the approval of the scheme, at least 14 days in advance from the date of implementation of the scheme.
The Department of Commerce has notified new Rule 43A for WFH in Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006.
These rules have been issued at the request of the industry to provide a nationally uniform WFH policy for all SEZs.
The new rule provides for WFH for a certain category of employees of a unit in SEZ.
These include employees of IT/ITeS SEZ units; employees who are temporarily incapacitated for work; employees who are traveling and who work offsite.
“The units planning or implementing WFH will formulate and approve a WFH scheme,” it said.
It added that the application for approval of the WFH scheme will be processed and approved within 15 days and if no communication is received by the unit within 15 days, the scheme will be deemed approved.
The units will also need to ensure that the electronic assets removed are properly recorded in the appropriate records.
A unit may also submit a revised arrangement at any time.
Commenting on the move, Abhishek Jain, Partner Indirect Tax, KPMG in India, said the government has issued the much anticipated SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) regarding WFH provisions for SEZ units.
These guidelines not only provide procedural clarity for companies, but also ensure that a unified process is followed across all SEZs in the country, helping companies avoid the tedious conversations of undertaking different processes for different SEZ jurisdictions, he said. .
SEZs, which emerged as major export hubs in the country, began to lose their luster after the imposition of minimum alternative taxation and the introduction of a sunset clause to end tax incentives.
These zones are treated as foreign entities in terms of customs provisions.
The Department of Commerce is working to replace the existing SEZ Act with new legislation so that states can become partners in “Developing Enterprise and Service Hubs.”