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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Digital Nomad- A New Normal and A Legal Perspective

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Imtiaz Ullah
Imtiaz Ullahhttps://nomadlawyer.org/about/
Imtiaz Ullah is the founder of travel website - NomadLawyer. A Corporate Lawyer, Senior Travel Correspondent, The Traveller Trails magazine and also acts as an Advisory Member, NGO - Sarvahitey. His travel philosophy is exploring new places, meeting new people, knowing the culture, eating like a local. He always believes in the idea-“ Don't just be a traveller but a Responsible one”.

Who doesn’t want to break free to explore, seek adventure and also be working at the same time like a Digital Nomad. The word “Digital Nomad”, sounds cool but let us see how effective it will be in the long run.This seemed to be a myth and really untenable. But post covid this has become possible.

Based on my experience

From my own experience, I am a legal professional, and I am  used to working with big teams where human interaction and classroom trainings are important. But post covid, we are working remotely which has become more or less acceptable now.

Some basic questions

Well, do you travel only during a vacation, or also do you explore while working full time? How do you get so much time to travel? I asked these questions to someone whom I met in  Bali, he said, “I am a digital Nomad”, for the first time, I heard this word and I was like “Wow, this is kind of cool”. The first thing that came to my mind, “wish I could also do it”.

Also Read: https://nomadlawyer.org/travel-guidelines-in-india-during-covid-lockdown/

What do you call this new norm of working? may be Digital Nomad, Remote Working or Work From Anywhere.

The word “Digital Nomad”, is creating a lot of buzz and it’s trending on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. These platforms are  becoming the hub where people are sharing photos of working from mountains, from a luxury hotel or from the solitude of a beach, even people turning some part of their homes into cute office spaces.

What exactly is Digital Nomad

It means not restricted to a work location. With the advent of new technologies and cloud computing more and more employees/employers are shifting to remote working or live the digital Nomad lifestyle. Many jobs which were traditionally face to face jobs are now becoming remote in nature giving rise to the concept of Digital Nomad. This is a paradigm shift. 

Well we are not here to justify which is better but through this blog we will shed light on the advantages, disadvantages and some legal points for Working From Anywhere(WFA)

A new normal post covid

As the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, people worldwide started to experience a ‘new normal. ‘ This ‘new normal’ has normalized remote-working and resulted in the mainstream adoption of technologies to support virtual collaboration, communication, and work from a distance. 

This make us believe- there exists a relation between remote working and travel mobility 


  • Add more value to work by granting geographical flexibility
  • Less time commuting 
  • Access to wider range of talent pool as it is not location specific
  • Better use of technology
  • Less leaves
  • More value to time which increases productivity
  • More focus less stress
  • Better time management
  • Better flexibility to prepare the schedule

While we talk about the benefits, it is also imperative to focus on the disadvantages of WFA. Advantages and disadvantages are both sides of the coin and we can’t ignore any of them. It will be incorrect to say one is better than the other. 

Disadvantages of WFA

  • Lack of teamwork
  • Unmonitored break which may lead to less productivity
  • Less human interaction
  • Inconsistent internet speed
  • Security concerns at work which raises the question of confidentiality
  • Distractions
  • Lack of collaboration among coworkers and this may constrain the informal learning that typically happens in the office.
  • Being at home mostly may lead to anxiety

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Legally Speaking: some legal aspects of WFA

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First question,  Does Indian Law Support WFA?

India as a country is slowly embracing WFA, but there are no specific laws governing work from anywhere in India. India is still far behind in legally endrossing it. Currently, there is no central or state laws covering WFA.

Is the employer liable to ensure the safety of workers at home? Does it amount to in due course of employment?

Practically it is almost impossible for an employer to take care of all its employees working from anywhere. But it is the prerogative of the employer to take reasonable care of employees in due course of employment. Now what if someone is travelling and also working and met with an accident? Will there be any liability on the employer’s part?

In spite of the lack of regulatory precedents in India, it is imperative for an organization to consider these obligations. A clear formulation of liabilities in the regard must be dealt with in the employment agreement to eliminate future disputes

Is the employer liable to provide the employee with facilities required for remote work?

Employees may  either request companies to provide the required facilities or request compensation for bearing the cost of these facilities. But there are no clear directives. A clear directive of this in the WFH policy and its acceptance will go a long way in eliminating future disputes.

Is a company’s confidential/sensitive data safe with employees working from home?

Section-43A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 read with the Reasonable Security Practices and Sensitive Data Protection Rules imposes hefty penalties for non-compliance to confidential or sensitive data..

Under Section 72A of the (Indian) Information Technology Act, 2000, disclosure of information, knowingly and intentionally, without the consent of the person concerned and in breach of the lawful contract has been also made punishable with imprisonment for a term extending to three years and fine extending to INR 5,00,000

It is of paramount importance for the organisations to ensure data protection by employees. It is recommended that a complete relook of the IT security measures be considered by organisations who are moving to the WFH model to arrest any possible data leakage either intentionally or unintentionally by the employees.

There are other legal questions like what is the geographical jurisdiction to WFA?, what is the governing law? VISA requirements for working from a different country?

Being a legal professional, these questions cross my mind, hope it does yours too. I am also finding suitable answers and hopefully there would be specific laws for dealing with these situations in the near future.

Do comment if you have some answers!

Travel and Don’t Stop!

Please Note- the answers to legal questions should not in any way be construed as legal opinion given by Nomadlawyer, as these are based upon my research. Please don’t quote NomadLawyer in any subsequent conversations regarding these questions.

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