The Ministry of Home Affairs held consultations with industry associations and State governments to build a well thought through and calibrated exit strategy from the lockdown.
NASSCOM, in consultation with the industry, developed lockdown exit strategy, for IT-BPM Sector and E-commerce sector. The documents detail the critical aspects of a phased opening, process for movement of employees and goods, health and safety practices that industry will follow and the importance of an effective implementation and issue resolution process.
The representation made to MHA is attached. The key highlights of the proposed strategy are provided below.
IT – ITeS
- The lockdown exit should be implemented in a staggered manner across 15 day cycles.
- Phase 1: 15 April – 30 April: Companies, will use this period to only enable 10-15% of their workforce to travel to office. Wherever possible and the work from home model is working, companies will not ask these employees to travel to office. The partial opening will be used for moving more assets, better infrastructure at employee homes and initiating critical projects which had to be closed due to non approvals from clients to work from home or other reasons. The percentage of employees per centre will follow this cap and only will be applicable for areas that are in the safe zone. In case there is critical infrastructure like data centers in some red zones, it is requested that a suitable process with all precautions be announced for only mission critical employees to operate this critical infrastructure.
- Phase 2: 1 May – 15 May: Based on the success of the first phase, the percentage of employees can be increased to 20-30% in this phase. For areas that were impacted in the first phase and are now safe, the 15-30% model can be implemented.
- Phase 3: 15 May – 30 May: The ratio can be increased to 30-50% in this phase.
- Coordinated approach for Movement of People and Goods
- Since movement of employees and goods will be coordinated at the state level and implemented at the local districts, it is extremely important that standardized processes are created to ensure there is no harassment at the ground level. A state nodal officer should be appointed to be the one point of contact for decision making and standardized templates and advisories be announced for each state that opens up.
- The ePass process that was used in the lockdown period faced a number of challenges and if the lockdown continues, the same processes can continue. However, in the phased-out exit plan, we recommend that the government move to a self-attestation model by industry. Each company will submit a weekly plan to the state nodal officer for number of employees that will be in office the coming week. Individual serial numbered letters will be provided to the employees along with a copy of the email sent to the state nodal officer, for any checks as needed. Employees will carry their office id cards at all times.
- Inter-state cross border travel to be permitted based upon organization pass to the employee (especially for NCR, Pune -Pimpri-Chinchwad). Companies will minimize cross-border travel and passes issued by one state should be applicable for crossing the border of another state in areas outlined above.
- Workplace Safety and Measures : Social Distancing and necessary precautions, will be undertaken by companies, including careful planning of employee transportation. Travel to be restricted.
- Incident Management : Companies will publish elaborate guidelines for any suspected / confirmed case of employee coming to work or in contact with an impacted employee / friend / family regarding reporting, diagnosis, quarantine and treatment. A response team will also be created across the company to ensure quick action in case there is any suspected case or exposure.
- Institutional Mechanism for Effective Coordination on Real – Time Basis: The lockdown exit strategy will need online monitoring as well as the ability to take quick decisions and respond in real time on genuine issues being faced by the sector. It is recommended that an inter-ministerial task force be created at the centre with state nodal officers that can plan a coordinated announcement and implementation on advisories, notifications, exemptions and issue management.
- Movement of People (Zones which are not in high risk category) : The issuance of passes against individual names is not productive as the demand load is not known in advance. Today, as passes issued are against individual names, and utilisation is limited to 30-40% even after incentives given by the companies and the balance passes are wasted (being non transferable). Therefore, capping the e-commerce workforce deployment based on a number or percentage is not efficient.
We recommend that Ecommerce be adequately enabled and the restriction on movement of workforce in E-commerce supply should be eased taking the above into consideration.
- Scope of Supply : There is an acute shortage of manpower in the Industry and attendance is likely to remain low in the next few weeks. Therefore, the industry will in any case take time to ramp up deliveries
Phase 1: Immediately after April 14, 2020:
- Essential items (as permitted by the MHA) to be continued to be delivered.
- The above essential items may be expanded to include:
- Items for work from home, students: E.g., laptops and chargers, home printers and cartridges/ toners, mobile phones and chargers, children books, study books, stationery etc.
- Essential household items. E.g., kitchen items, bath items, cleaning items, essential electrical items.
- The government may leave this to the industry to manage, with regular reporting of what kind of products are being sold. An upper value threshold on items (say, Rs 25,000) may be considered till these restrictions are in force.
- In case of mobile phones, since that has generally been a fast mover on e-commerce, there could be some monetary cap on the value of the phone (say Rs 10,000) so that people requiring an urgent replacement of mobile can purchase.
- Delivery window during the day should be increased. This will enable the deliveries to be spaced out and ensure food deliveries can be facilitated as requirement.
- Sellers supplying through the e-commerce channel should be permitted to access their godowns/ shop/ office to cater to orders received through e-commerce channel. A limited hours’ time window during the day may be provided to ensure these premises are not open throughout the day during the period of restrictions.
- Restaurants & kitchens should be allowed to operate for delivery.
Phase 2: Based on review after some time or in zones where there is very low risk.
- Restrictions on e-commerce should be further eased. The industry will be pleased to suggest measures based on the ground level assessment.
High risk zones: State government may decide based on local administration’s input.
- Health and Safety Measures : The industry shall follow all norms prescribed by the Government and implement the following measures:
- Social distancing of minimum 3 feet in office/ workplace.
- Regular disinfection of office/ workplace.
- Daily screening of all staff for visible symptoms like cough, fever etc.
- All employees shall be encouraged to wear masks.
- Delivery staff to sanitise their hands before each delivery.
- Create awareness and encourage every delivery personnel to install Arogya Setu app to enable risk assessment at an individual level.
- Recommend downloading Aarogya Setu app on the phone