Govt offices resume work in full force after order
“The Government servants at the level of Under Secretary and above to attend offices on all working days,” the order dated October 7 stated.Updated: Oct 17, 2020, 06:44 IST
A majority of the workforce in government offices from the under-secretary level and above has resumed work from office following an order from the Department of Personnel and Training.
“The Government servants at the level of Under Secretary and above to attend offices on all working days,” the order dated October 7 stated.
“As regards Government servants below the level of Under Secretary, at least 50% of attendance is to be ensured. The Heads of Department may mandate attendance of more than 50%, if required in public interest, while strictly ensuring that social distancing is maintained under all circumstances,” it said. HT has seen the DoPT order.
The officials have been directed to follow staggered timings to avoid over-crowding in offices and been advised to follow two shifts -- from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm, and from 10.00 am to 6.30 pm.
The department has exempted officials residing in containment zones from attending officer till such a zone is denotified. “Persons with Disabilities and Pregnant women employees shall continue to work from home till further orders,” the DoPT order stated.
“Those officers/staff who are not attending office shall work from home and they should be available on telephone and electronic means of communication at all times,” it added.
It has also asked all heads of departments to ensure that the ‘National Directives for the Covid-19 management, which include instructions issued for regular sanitization/cleaning of working places, maintenance of social distancing norms, wearing of masks etc. are strictly complied with’.
“Meetings, as far as possible, shall be conducted on video-conferencing and personal meetings with visitors, unless absolutely necessary in public interest, are to be avoided,” the order said.
In pursuance with the DoPT directives, the ministry of home affairs in a separate memorandum, issued on October 9, has asked “All Divisional heads to ensure 100% attendance of the officers of the level of US & above and also to mandate the attendance of officials below the level of US as per exigencies of work subject to strict observance of Social Distancing Norms”.
Until now, a 100% strength was only required from officials at the level of director and above, with other officials being asked to attend office on alternate days. The government was also considering a work from home policy, but it seems to have been put on hold over privacy concerns regarding confidential documents.
“Now its practically 100% attendance in offices, everyone has returned to work,” said a government official on condition of anonymity. “The government has opened up theatres and cinema halls, there are km-long lines outside the Delhi metro. Everyone is taking precautions, sanitisers, masks and Aarogya Setu is compulsory. Work is back in full swing,” the official said.
“There were a few Covid-19 cases in our ministry just last week. Since under-secretaries share spaces, it may increase the risk. But people have to return to work at some point,” a second official said, requesting anonymity.
More than six months after the Centre imposed a hard lockdown to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Union home ministry on October 1 moved closer to unlocking almost all activities by allowing a graded restart of schools, partial reopening of movie theatres, and large gatherings including political and religious events.
The latest easing of curbs has permitted more activities in areas outside the containment zones including opening up cinemas, theatres and multiplexes with up to 50% of their seating capacity from October 15. In the latest guidelines, the government also allowed flexibility to states and Union Territories to decide on reopening schools and coaching institutions from mid-October in a phased manner.