The advent of digitalization has significantly widened the scope for
work from home also the situation of absolute lockdown during COVID-19. In this
pandemic, due to restricted options, the concept and need for Home-based work
are observed. In both public and private sectors the Work from home gave the
employees flexibility in maintaining their work and life balance. Many new
challenges which were never seen before were caused due to this pandemic and
accordingly, individuals and organizations adopted the changes continuously. In
this article, I’m going to analyze the laws and environment in India for
There are also many hurdles in this type of work because the
employer has to share sensitive data with the employees who are working from
home. Recently keeping the importance of the home-based work in mind the Union labour ministry also for the very first time incorporated the ‘work from home in
draft model standing order as an option in the establishment. Several
Organizations realized that the Work From Home can become potentially a
permanent feature. What may be the benefits and hurdles for the employer and the
environment for work from home will be reviewed.
Through this, We will try to
understand the definition and criteria of home-based work and Indian laws given
by the Ministry of Labour. Will also review, if any specific legislature is
available that talks about home-based worker and their rights. For understanding
in a better manner check the magnitude of workers working from home and the
environment available for the working to be done in a manner the utility doesn’t
In this catastrophe of pandemic covid-19 we have seen the hastening of work in
office is now rapidly transiting into work from home. The workers have to leave
the office space and now working from their own houses or distant spaces. The
question in the mind of many of the worker is that whether the home-based work/
remote work is supported by Indian Labour laws or not. Amidst various
recommendations and initiative, no specific policy or law is brought for the
The present condition raises a question about the condition
and availability of specific labour laws for the Home-Based Worker (hereunder
referred to as ‘HBW’), which also embraces the informal workers and freelancers.
Present Labour law is for the protection of wages and providing good working
condition to the worker of the organized sector but no law is designed if the
workplace is home.
With responsibilities and obligations, the health and safety
of the workers shall also be taken Such steps with the proper framework which
covers all workers is needed at the present condition when the uncertainty lies
of when normal working days will be back. The work from home method does not
decrease productivity and provides a better lifestyle to the worker. The method
which is ultimately beneficial to both sides should be codified as soon as
possible so that the Home Based Workers can have some rights and can approach
the appropriate forum if their rights are breached.
The Ministry of labour defined HBW under criteria the workers in the unorganized
sector working at a piece rate employment or self-employed in their home itself
without any social security and have low income. The worker who used to work
from home mostly falls under the category of unpaid work because in major cases
the payment of a Home-Based Worker is done according to unit or piece of
production. They are said to be considered under the informal sector therefore
the payment received by Home Based Worker, not from fixed wages.
Legislation of Bidi worker and Minimum wage act is only two legislations which
recognizes home-based worker.As of now, this arrangement is going well
because the employer is getting their work done and employees are also getting
extra time for adjusting their work and life balance, which they were incapable
to do before when they have to travel for hours on a single day. Now they can
use that time for their work and hobbies.
But the real question now is that will
this arrangement can go for a long run without being any conflicts between the
employer and employee and do we have laws for such arrangement governing them.
In many countries around the world, specific laws have been enacted for
supporting the idea of HBW. This is now known as a new normal and productive
enough to fulfil the required result of the employer.
If there is no proper
regulation for Home-Based Worker is provided by the government then in such case
the worker will be left on the forgiveness of the employer. The established
procedure will provide the employer with bargaining power and can ask for their
rights from the employer, the absence of specific legislation will leave space
for the employer to regulate the working arbitrarily.
It is tough to bring the statistical data of HBW right now in India because
there is no proper way to measure the same. As per the Rights of Home Based
Workers National human rights commission New Delhi in our country, 23% of the
person from the non-agricultural department are Home Based Worker and 67 per
cent of the workers doing HBW in the non-agriculture sector are women. In
total 57% of Home-Based Worker are female.[4
In November 2020 the government
brought new regulations for bringing flexibility in the work of the companies
who were promoting the policies relating to work from homework from anywhere the
guidelines are brought to remove the unnecessary restrictions by bureaucrats in
reducing the burden of workers.
There are several countries where employers have the duty of care towards their
worker irrespective of the place where they work. In our country there is a lack
of legislation for such condition, the facilities are provided to employees by
the employer at their workplace i.e. phone connectivity, high-speed internet,
air conditioning, officers etc.
The Home-Based Worker has to bear the cost of
all such facilities, the HBW is going to learn for a long period, therefore, a
solution to this problem should be provided either the employer should provide
such facilities or provide them with the cost for such facilities.
The employer has to send the confidential data out of the office to the
employees. This exposes data to many risks, the employees might intentionally or
unintentionally leak the data or the hackers might have excess to the sensitive
data. The employers have the responsibility of safeguarding the sensitive data
of the company.
The companies should internally frame policies for promoting a
healthy work environment for employees. There are many such threats and
problems which are being faced by the employer and worker for which there is a
need for formulating legislation that addresses a solution to these problems.
Standing order by the central government under authorization under section 29 of
the Industrial Relation code, 2020 is issued for matters related to work from
home. The attempt for the formalization of work from home is made by the
government for the service sector but the manufacturing unit is still kept out
from the concept.
The condition of work is to be agreed upon between the
employer and worker, it depends upon the employer to allow their work to work
from home for a specific period agreed by the employer and worker. The
government has issued the model standing order which gives the standard for the
condition and conduct of work from home, for the organization with the capacity
of more than 300 workers which is increased from 100 from last year.
A worker can be suspended by the employer in case of any misconduct and the
enquiry and investigation are to be completed within 90 days from the date of
suspension. For the period of suspension, the employer is needed to pay the
subsistence allowance to the worker, the condition is that during the suspension
period the worker has not employed elsewhere. The standing order covers the
categorization of worker, working hour/shift, attendance, procedures, rules and
regulations of leave and holiday.
At present most companies are altering the policies and guidelines, defining
working hours for work from home and other regulations as per their convenience.
Still, there are many areas where a clash between employer and employee may
arise. There are no clear terms and conditions for leave during the period of
HBW, for compensation in case of injury and other similar problems. The working
timing is to be maintained for fulfilling the duties while maintaining the
The employer should not take unwarranted advantage of their position by reducing
the salaries of Home-Based Worker. There should be proper salary for the work is
to be given to the workers who are working from home, the work from home method
should not result in cheap employment. The impact of work from home on the
working environment and companies’ economic growth also be checked.
efficiency of the worker should not be decreased while working from home, the
proper rules are to be framed in such a way that the idea of work from home
should not hamper the overall economy of the country. While tackling all the
challenges the employer must also take care of the mental, physical health and
well-being of the employee.
Due to the lack of specific labour laws for Home-Based Worker, it is tough to
define the criteria under which Home Based Worker falls. The non-availability of
basic criteria also creates a problem in fixing the wage for the worker working
from home. The definition of a Home-Based worker is provided by the Ministry of
labour in a broader sense to cover the worker of the unorganized sector also.
Work from home framework was proposed by New Delhi which was later opposed by
the labour unions because the provisions give power to the employer to reduce
the salaries. If that would have been allowed then labour markets might be
distorted with the reduction of salaries of the worker.
The step was taken by
the government with the introduction of model standing order which allows
deciding mutually the working hour for HBW which is only allowed for the IT
sector’s employee and the relaxation of code’s binding on the working hour is
given. The work from home is going to be new normal in upcoming time, therefore,
it is need of the present time to bring specific laws for the home-based
- Government Policies for Home-based Workers, Vol. 4, Issue No. 2, Labour
- Ostfeld, Lynne R. “WORKING FROM HOME: WHY I WORK FROM HOME.” GPSolo,
vol. 28, no. 7, 2011, pp. 12–13. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23630612.
Accessed 5 Apr. 2021.
- Home Based Work in India, Labour Law. https://paycheck.in/labour-law-india/maternity-and-work/home-based-work-in-india#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20specific%20law,under%20the%20Trade%20Unions%20Act.
- Invisible but Vital to Value Chains of Production-Home Based Workers,
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organising.
- Section 29, Industrial Relation Code, 2020.
- Surya Sarathi Ray, New Work from home rule in 2021, Financial
- Model Standing Order for Service Sector, Government of India, Ministry
of Labour & Employment. https://labour.gov.in/whatsnew/draft-model-standing-order-service-sector