5. Managing COVID-19-Related Employee Issues
Management of quarantine, childcare and medical leave for employees affected by COVID-19.
- From a general industry and legal perspective, with respect to COVID-19, employees affected by COVID-19 will be considered to be on paid leave. There are also strict quarantine measures that have to be mandatorily adopted, as prescribed by various Government executive orders. There is however no clarity as yet on whether an unfortunate condition such as COVID-19 would affect any other leave entitlements of employees.
Employees who fear infection and refuse to work
- Given that the Central Government and respective State Government have eased the lock down restrictions, an employer, who has been permitted to remain operational, has the right to take disciplinary actions (subject to the provisions of applicable laws, employment contracts of employees and the organization’s internal policies) against employees who refuse to report to work unless: (i) such employees have been infected with COVID-10; or (ii) such employees reside in designated containment zones; or (iii) it can be established that the employer itself is not enforcing adequate health and safety measures as prescribed by the Government.
Disclosure of employees who are infected.
- When one or a few employee(s) who share a room/close office space is/are found to be suffering from symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, the employer must immediately inform the nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the state or district helpline. While the suspect case(s), if assessed by health authorities as moderate to severe, will be treated as per health protocol in an appropriate health facility, necessary actions by employers for contact tracing and disinfection of work place will have to be undertaken as well. In such instances, employers must also abide by all other instructions issued by the appropriate public health authority. As a best market practice, employers may also consider disclosing to other employees if there are positive cases inside the workplace without ever disclosing identity and other personal information.