Central Govt Introduces Hybrid Working Option under SEZ Rules for Certain Employees; Notifies Rule 43A [Read Notification]

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, vide notification no. G.S.R. 824(E) issued on 7th November 2023 has inserted a new Rule 43A into Special Economic Zones Rules, 2006 which facilitates hybrid opportunity for the employees.

These rules may be called the Special Economic Zones (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 2023 and came into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette, that is 7th November. ‘43A. Hybrid working.- (1) A Unit may, as per its requirements, permit its employees, specified in sub-rule (2), to work from any place outside the Special Economic Zone in accordance with this rule.”

According to sub rule (2), the following are the employees allowed working in hybrid: (i) employees of Information Technology Units and Information Technology enabled services; (ii) employees, who are temporarily incapacitated; (iii) employees, who are travelling; and (iv) employees, who are working offsite. However, the permission for working hybrid shall be applicable till December 31st, 2024. The facility for hybrid work may cover all the employees of the Unit. Where a Unit permits its employees for hybrid work under this rule, it shall intimate the same to the Development Commissioner through an e-mail on or before the date on which the facility for hybrid work is permitted. The Unit shall not be required to submit the lists of employees who are allowed hybrid work but shall maintain the lists of employees who have been permitted hybrid work in the Unit and it shall be submitted for verification whenever is required by the Development Commissioner.

The hybrid work facility shall be admissible if the Unit continues to operate from the premises as per their letter of approval. The work to be performed by the employee permitted hybrid work under this rule shall be as per the services approved for the Unit, and the work is related to a project of the Unit.

The Unit shall ensure export revenue of the resultant products or services to be accounted for by the Unit to which the employee is permitted for hybrid work. Where an employee ceases to be part of the project of the Unit, the employee shall be relived from the Unit and the Unit shall surrender the identity card as per the provisions of sub-rule (2) of rule 70.

The Unit may provide to an employee duty-free goods, including laptop, desktop, and other electronic equipment needed by the employee for hybrid work and the same shall be allowed to be taken outside the Special Economic Zone without payment of duty or integrated goods and services tax on temporary basis: Provided that the Units while opting for hybrid work facility shall ensure that such duty-free goods are duly accounted for in the appropriate records as per the extant rules and are available for verification, if necessary. Notwithstanding anything in sub-rule (1) of rule 50, the temporary removal of such duty-free goods shall be allowed for a period commensurate with the validity of the facility for hybrid work:

Provided that if a Unit fails to bring back the duty-free goods into the Special Economic Zone within the period specified in this sub-rule, the duty applicable on such goods shall be paid by the Unit. According to the notification, the expression “employees” shall include all persons employed on the rolls of the Unit or under a direct contract or where the Unit is the principal employer under a contract with another organisation where such persons are expected to report on a day-to-day basis for work to the Unit and the Unit administers the control on their attendance.

And, the expression “Hybrid working” refers to a flexible work model whereby an employer may permit its employees to work from office or from any location outside the employer’s office from time to time.’

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