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Govt advises cos to implement 'Work from Home' policy

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The government has advised companies to implement 'Work from Home' policy for their staff to encourage "social distancing" to curb spreading of coronavirus infections.

As part of relaxations in compliance requirements, the corporate affairs ministry has allowed companies to conduct board meetings through video conference and other audio visual means till June 30.

In an advisory on Thursday, Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas said the ministry is examining relaxations under the companies law that could be implemented in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

It would also come out with a web form for companies/ LLPs to confirm their readiness to deal with the coronavirus threat. This is aimed at collecting details of companies and LLPs that adopt 'Work from Home' policy.

Since companies/LLPs (Limited Liability Partnerships) are major employers, especially in urban areas, their full participation and cooperation is most essential to fully realise the objective of social distancing as a means to contain the spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease, he said in the advisory.

They have been strongly advised to put in place an immediate plan to implement the 'Work from Home' policy as a temporary measure till March 31.

"All companies/LLPs are advised to implement the 'Work from Home' policy in their headquarters and field offices to the maximum extent possible, including by conduct of meetings through video conference or other electronic/ telephonic/ computerised means," he said.

Even with the essential staff on duty, Srinivas said staggered timings may be followed so as to minimise physical interaction.

"The web form named CAR (Company Affirmation of Readiness towards COVID-19) should be filed by an authorised signatory of companies and LLPs concerned," as per the advisory.

CAR-2020 would be deployed on March 23 and all companies/ LLPs are requested to report compliance using the web service on the same day, it added.

On Friday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's office tweeted the advisory as well as the notification regarding relaxation in board meeting norms. She is also the Corporate Affairs Minister.

"The government has decided to relax the requirement of holding board meetings with physical presence of directors in view of #COVID19," the minister's office said in the tweet.

On Thursday, a senior official told PTI that CAR-2020 would be a way of persuading companies to join hands in containing the disease and the web service would have CIN, PAN, DIN and OTP validation.

It would also encourage a movement towards social distancing, the official added.

CIN is Corporate Identification Number, PAN (Permanent Account Number), DIN (Director Identification Number) and OTP (One Time Password).

According to the advisory, the ministry has relaxed the rules with respect to board meetings and has dispensed with the necessity of holding physical meetings on matters relating to approval of financial statements, board report, restructuring etc till June 30.

"We are also examining any other relaxations under the Companies Act, 2013, that may be necessitated on account of COVID-19," it noted.

The corporate affairs ministry is implementing the Companies Act as well as the LLP Act.

In India, more than 190 people have been infected by coronavirus and four people have died.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 20 2020. 14:44 IST