On Day 1, only few comply with new govt work from home policy
The Delhi government’s recent decision to have only 50% employees physically present in offices, as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19, is turning out to be a case of “easier said than done”, with several departments yet to adopt the policy and others unsure as to how to proceed given that they are indirectly involved in Covid-19 activities.
On Tuesday, the first day of the order being in force, only a few government departments could shift to the work from home (WFH) roster while the others continued to function as usual.
Departments such as services, general administration and vigilance started the WFH roster from Monday with most employees deciding to report to work on alternate days.
On Saturday, the Delhi government had issued the order to implement a work from home policy from the week starting December 1, for at least 50% of the total staff, excluding bureaucrats, in government offices and departments that are not on the front line of Covid-19 management. The decision was taken in light of the Covid-19 situation.
The capital currently is going through a third surge of Covid-19. While the highest number of cases a day (8,593) was recorded on November 11, the highest deaths a day (131) was recorded on November 18. The case positivity rate had touched 15.26% on November 7.The government has maintained that both cases and positivity rate are gradually coming down.
While the WFH policy is not applicable to departments such as health, district administrations, home guards, civil defence, prison staff and water department, senior officials said it will still hamper delivery of public services.
“Services such as issuance of driving licences, income and caste, certificates or sub-registrar functions will continue as usual. But, because of the WFH policy, the waiting time is likely to increase. For example, the time to get a driving licence is already around one to two months and the wait may now be longer. Also, we are thinking of having staggered timings at road transport offices,” said a senior transport official, on condition of anonymity.
Delhi government has around 150 departments and a working strength of around 250,000. The latest order also does not include Grade I officers – IAS officers, DANICS officers and those promoted to equivalent ranks.
“Departments such as education, labour and food and civil supplies have a lot of employees indirectly engaged in Covid-19 activities. The education department has called for a meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss how WFH can be implemented,” said Umesh Batra, general secretary of the Delhi Government Employees’ Welfare Association (DGEWA).
Delhi government had implemented a similar policy during the nationwide lockdown and most departments continued working with only 50% of staff physically present in office till June 30. When restrictions were scaled down from July, the order was relaxed in a phased manner.
HT had earlier reported that a total of 2,487 employees of the Delhi government contracted Covid-19 between March and October 13, of whom 89 succumbed to the virus, reveals the reply to an RTI query.