Information is continuing to emerge on COVID-19 and the resulting legislative changes being instituted in India. We have compiled a list of important updates for Indian employers to be aware of. Our teams are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to provide the latest updates to keep you informed.
COVID-19 Updates - India
Last Updated – April 23, 2020
The government of India has mandated a nationwide lockdown. All public and private offices that do not provide essential services must be closed during this period. Companies that fall into the category of essential services, must adhere to all health and safety directions as prescribed by the Government of India. All other employers must allow all employees to work from home.
COVID-19 Employer Reporting Requirements
While employers are not obligated to report employee travel history, contact with existing COVID-19 patients, or whether an employee is exhibiting symptoms, it is highly recommended that employers advise employees to seek medical help, inform the concerned local authorities, and cooperate for infection contact mapping of infection. Employees recently returning from travel to high-risk areas, or in primary contact with an infected COVID-19 patient, are advised to self-quarantine for 14 to 28 days. If they are not sick, they can work from home or apply for leaves based on sick/casual leaves available.
Wage Reductions and Termination
National and state governments have advised employers not to reduce wages or terminate employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite government advisory, employers retain the right to reduce employee work hours and wages, or to terminate employees, as long as done in accordance to existing laws.
Employers that have met certain salary thresholds, and have 100 or fewer employees, are eligible to receive government contributions to their Employees Provident Fund Organization. Government contributions will be provided to eligible employers for the next three months.
Employees have the ability to withdraw funds from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO). Employees can withdraw up to 75% of their total EPFO fund, or an amount equivalent to three months’ salary, whichever is lower. This is a non-refundable withdrawal. Employees are not obligated to return the same amount to their EPFO account.
Temporary extensions have also been made to Employees’ State Insurance. As per a notification dated April 15, 2020, there has been an extension for depositing employer and employee social cost contributions. This is not an exemption but an extension to pay government arrears.
Filing date of 2019 Unified Annual Return has been pushed back to April 30, 2020. The extension was authorized by the Ministry of Labor & Employment. Authorities instructed not to take action against individuals who have not met the initial February 1st deadline.
Filing date of Employees’ State Insurance Corporation has been extended. Contributions for February 2020 and March 2020 can now be filed as late as April 15, 2020 and May 15, 2020.