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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 5 hours before everyone else got to read it.

Khaitan cautiously re-opens offices at 10-25% capacity for volunteers after Aarogya Setu install push

Back to very very cautious physical business at Khaitan
Back to very very cautious physical business at Khaitan

All Khaitan & Co offices have opened their doors again today to allow fee-earners and staff - purely on a voluntary basis - to physically return to work.

The firm’s Mumbai office would run with a maximum attendance of 10% until the end of this month, in accordance with local authorities’ guidelines, while Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata offices would run at a maximum capacity of 25%.

It is understood that in Mumbai around 10 staff turned up today in the morning until late afternoon.

The primary recommendation from the firm remained to continue working from home if possible, without any pressure on anyone to turn up to the offices, at least until the end of June.

Khaitan’s executive director for HR, Amar Sinhji, confirmed that the offices were reopening in stages, commenting: “We have continued, uninterrupted, to serve our clients since the first lockdown.

“There has been no disruption in our service levels or internal work processes as we transited seamlessly to a 100 WfH model. Now with the phased lifting of the lockdown, we are fully geared to head back to office, as per Govt directions in this regard.

“Our ‘Mission Begin Again’ will of course keep our members health and safety as our first priority and hence physical attendance in office will be purely voluntary until end June. We have all health & safety protocols in place, including the maintenance of social distancing within our offices.”

Khaitan had closed its offices on 17 March 2020, with most other big law firms, even before the official government order to close workplaces.

On 10 May, Khaitan had begun preparing for the eventual opening of offices at some point in future, though at that point no date was specified (nor officially notified and permitted by governments).

In particular, Khaitan had notified staff that following the government’s home ministry then guidelines, it was making installation of the government’s Aarogya Setu contact tracing app mandatory for all its staff.

All staff had been requested to confirm they had installed the app on their phones via an online form.

After a variety of criticism, ranging from privacy to transparency to technological compatibility with users’ phones, the home ministry had stepped back from its initial advice of making the app mandatory and on 30 May instead recommended that employers should ensure that staff install the app on a “best effort basis”.

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