Coronavirus and the Workplace: What the Law requires you to do

With the rapid spread of the corona virus (COVID-19), employers are alarmed as to its potential impact on their workplace environment.
With a view to prevent the further spread of the virus, the Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka, has issued Circular KAE 170 SWEMARA 2018 (B-R) dated 05.03.2020 directing all the Establishments (Industrial & Commercial) to grant 28 days leave, over and above the leave admissible under law, to any affected employee. The Circular mandates that the affected employees should submit the confirmation obtained from the ESI Hospital to their employer, and the employer shall, thereafter, immediately sanction 28 days leave to the employee concerned. Granting of such leave is mandatory on the part of the employers.

All Employers and Contractors are advised to strictly adhere to the requirements of providing 28 days of sick leave to all those employees who are found infected with the virus. In addition, it is necessary for employers to initiate several precautionary measures within the workplace to ensure that the spread of the disease is adequately thwarted. Employers have come up with several Do’s and Don’ts to combat any further increase in its count. Employees are being advised to work from home, if they have flu-like symptoms and/or if any person in the employee’s household has flu-like symptoms. Some companies have taken the pre-emptive route and advised most of their employees to work from home. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India has issued an order on 06.03.2020 exempting employees from using biometric till March 31. The same may be recommended by the employers which will help them to contain the virus.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has issued several travel advisories between 26.02.2020 to 06.03.2020 restricting citizen’s travel to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, several employers have restricted all business travel to COVID-19 affected countries. Some employers are also advising employees to avoid domestic travel as well. While the outbreak of the virus is a reality, any sort of panic must be avoided. Employers must exercise caution and take all swift measures to calm any employee anxiety, while extending full support to those who have been diagnosed with the infection.

The outbreak of the Corona virus has been declared a global health emergency by the WHO. The virus has caused considerable panic and a number of companies have initiated their business continuity plans. In the light of the highly contagious nature of the virus, the Karnataka Government has ordered a mandatory 28 days of paid holiday for any employee who is found to be infected with the virus. The government has also encouraged companies to promote work from home and take other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. In this circular, BCP Associates discusses your legal responsibilities as an employer in the light of these circulars issued by the government

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