Amid on-going coronavirus crisis, India's IT trade body NASSCOM has advised Indian outsourcing companies to examine their contracts in detail and communicate the implications of force majeure to their clients, as the country goes on a 21-day lockdown.
A recent spike in the number of coronavirus infections in India has forced the federal government to impose complete lockdown across the country. During this 21-day period, only "essential services" will remain exempt from lockdown, while state governments will have the power to amend rules regarding the exemptions.
In its advisory released on Sunday [PDF], the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) told IT companies in India to urgently prepare for the lockdown, which came into effect this week.
NASSCOM said that companies will need to ensure during this period that only a selected number of employees are allowed to come to office to support mission-critical functions, such as operating data centres.
The guidance also recommends that companies should shift equipment (such as desktop PCs) from their offices (where possible) to enable employees to work from home.
NASSCOM warned its members that "essential services notification cannot be interpreted to be used for projects that had to be completed in the near term and contracts carrying penalties, etc".
Important advice for outsourcing companies in NASSCOM's message is that companies must go through all the clauses of their service contracts, including force majeure clauses applicable to customers.
Companies should also ask customers if they have any issue with workers accessing some of their data/systems from home - a move that may come into conflict with some data protection requirements.
They must also keep their clients informed about all the measures that are being taken at their end to ensure confidentiality, as per the terms of their service contracts .
Tech Mahindra said that it has put "a robust business continuity plan - powered by next-generation technologies - in place", while ensuring the safety of all of its workers.
Infosys said that it "has well-defined disaster recovery and business continuity plans at various levels". The company also claimed to have developed a "comprehensive pandemics response plan" based on the recommendations of WHO and local governments.
Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at NASSCOM, said on Tuesday that most IT and back office services companies have received the required approvals from their customers regarding relaxation of non-disclosure and other privacy rules to allow employees to work from home.
"The remainder should be hearing from their clients in the next couple of days," she added.
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