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Update on Measures Taken by Government Departments in view of Covid-19 Pandemic

Restriction on Collection of Fees by Schools in Uttarakhand:

Uttarakhand Education Department has released a circular on March 25, 2020 restricting all CBSE, ICSE and other boards affiliated aided and un-aided schools within Uttarakhand from collection of fees till re-opening of the schools. All schools within Uttarakhand have been directed not to force the parents for immediate deposit of the fees in view of the ongoing lockdown on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fees shall be collected only upon re-opening of the schools.

While the said circular is applicable to the schools within the state of Uttarakhand, it is expected that other state education departments may also issue similar orders/instructions in the coming days.

MHRD Directive on Measures to Achieve Social Distancing:

The Ministry of Human Resource and Development (“MHRD”) on March 21, 2020 has issued a directive laying down the preventive measures for achieving ‘social distancing’. The directive has been issued to all departments/autonomous organizations under the MHRD including but not limited to the University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education, Central Board of Secondary Education and National Institute of Open Schooling.

For the purposes of ensuring safety of the faculty members/teachers/researchers/non-teaching staff of educational institutions, the MHRD directive states that all these staff members should be permitted to work from home till March 31, 2020 and the said period shall be counted as being ‘on duty’ for all staff members including ad-hoc and contract teachers, whose contracts are valid at least upto March 31, 2020.

The said directive further states that the staff members should utilize this period for different academic activities such as development of on-line content, on-line teaching and on-line evaluation, undertaking research work, writing articles, papers, preparing innovative questions for question bank, etc.

Thus, all teaching and non-teaching staff engaged with the organizations under the MHRD, viz. CBSE affiliated schools, private or state university, institutions recognized by AICTE, etc., shall be considered to be ‘on-duty’ and be entitled to receive their pay for the said period. While the period stated in the MHRD directive is March 31, 2020, it is very likely that the date would be extended, considering that the entire country has been put under 21 days lock-down in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indian Government Grants Financial Relief:

The Finance Minister of India, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman in her address on March 26, 2020 announced several financial reliefs proposed to be granted by the Indian government for both organized and unorganized sector, to deal with the economic distress caused on account of the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The financial reliefs inter alia include:

  • grant of medical insurance cover worth INR 50,00,000/- (Indian Rupees Fifty Lakhs) per medical personnel, including doctors, paramedics, medical staff, sanitary workers, etc;
  • the government of India will pay the provident fund contribution, which is 12% for each for the employee and the employer (i.e. total of 24% contribution), for the next three months. The said relief is applicable for establishments employing up to 100 employees and where 90% of the employees draw wages less than INR 15,000/- (Indian Rupees Fifteen Thousand) per month; and
  • the Employees Provident Fund Organization Scheme regulations are proposed to be amended to allow non-refundable advance of 75% of the amount standing to credit or 3 months wages, whichever is lower.

We will continue to update you with the latest announcements made by the Government of India.