The government-framed COVID-19 health guideline suggested that employers should allow paid sick leave or special leave for workers with coronavirus symptoms.
The employers must encourage the workers with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 not to come to the workplace and should make it clear that their absence under the circumstances would be considered as paid sick leave or special leave and would not affect the workers negatively, said the Occupational Safety and Health Guide for Prevention and Mitigation of COVID–19 at Workplace which was approved by the labour ministry on Tuesday.
The guideline also said that the employers must adjust and expand access to paid sick leave, sickness benefits, and parental/care leave and inform all the workers in line with the national standards.
The workers must be informed about the sick leave policy and their rights to get leave in order to care for their family members, if affected by COVID-19, the guidance stipulated.
It suggested that the employers should adopt an alternate work modality through promoting teleworking for non-critical workers or introducing shifts in the establishments to ensure social distancing and minimise risks of infection.
In order to ensure social distancing and minimise the risk of the virus spreading in workplaces, the employers should promote teleworking for non-critical workers, the guideline said.
‘If teleworking is not feasible, the employers may introduce shifts to avoid large concentrations of workers in the facilities,’ it said.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments in association with the International Labour Organisation prepared the guideline and urged all employers of factories and establishments to comply with the measures identified therein to protect workers and safeguard their respective industries while running the wheels of the economy.
It said that all factories and establishments, including commercial entities, plantations, agricultural farms, shops, banks, insurance agencies, restaurants, stock exchanges, agency offices, clubs, cinemas and theatres, would fall under the purview of this guideline.
As per the guideline, the employers should provide adequate personal protective equipment such as clothing, masks, gloves and goggles to the workers and employees.
The guideline suggested that the employers should arrange for isolation of any person who develops COVID-19 symptoms at the work site and to establish a screening system for prompt identification.
It also suggested the establishment of quarantine areas and setting up of separate rooms for consultation with in-house medical staff.
The OSH guidance urged the management to establish hand washing stations at the main gate for staff, customers and visitors where they can wash their hands with soap and water and disinfect them with sanitisers.
It also suggested that the management should develop a contingency and business continuity plan integrating the safety and health issues.
This guidance is not a standard or regulation; however, it contains recommendations as well as safety and health standards based on relevant international labour standards.
Employers and workers in enterprises should use this guidance for planning appropriate control measures, it said.
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