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WhatsApp for Salary Communication? Centre Backtracks on New Labour Code Plan Amid Privacy Concerns

The government has said it will remove WhatsApp and other social media platforms from the Labour Code’s draft notification on wage communication.

    FEBRUARY 11, 2021; The Ministry of Labour and Employment has decided to shelve its plan to allow social media platforms such as WhatsApp to be used for salary communication of employees under the new Labour Codes that are due to be implemented from April.

According to a report by Mint, the anomaly will be corrected and the government will remove social media and WhatsApp from wage communication draft notification, labour secretary Apurva Chandra said. This comes amid concerns over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy introduced last month. The core issue related to WhatsApp’s data-sharing procedures with Facebook, with many users concerned that the updated policy would mandate sharing of sensitive profile information with WhatsApp’s parent company.

“We will amend that portion. We value the privacy concerns of employees. The drafts will be finalized soon and you will see that social media, including WhatsApp, will not be there in the final standing orders,” Chandra told Mint.

Earlier, the labour ministry had proposed to use “WhatsApp and other social media” platforms for salary communication.

The move came amid growing concerns over data privacy and raised the fear that it may facilitate access to financial and social security details of workers by social media platforms.

The draft orders were put in the public domain for comments. It will be finalised and made part of the Industrial Relation (IR) Code Act after a month.

“All payment including wages to the workers shall be paid by crediting in the bank account of worker on electronic mode or digital form. Intimation to the payment made to a worker shall be sent to him through short messaging service (SMS) or e-mail or social media communication, such as, WhatsApp or by issuing a slip,” the Union labour ministry had said in the draft standing orders for the services, manufacturing and mining sectors.

Using social media for salary communications will not only compromise the employee-employer confidentiality agreement, but could also lead to financial profiling, surveillance of bank details, and data theft.

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