I would like to know what type of leave should be sanctioned or provided to the employees for the COVID-19 epidemic and the curfew period.
From India, Indore
Dear Vinod,
It is not known on whose behalf the question has been asked. The nation-wide curfew/lock down imposed in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak is only to contain a possible national disaster. Being unarmed, we are suddenly compelled to fight an invisible enemy. In this critical situation of life or death, both the employers and the employees have to cooperate with the Governments to the fullest extent possible. Since the COVID-19 outbreak has reached global-scale and as the research on finding a curative medicine remains in its initial stage, it is not possible now to ascertain when the lock down would end or whether the epidemic will die on its own. In such a situation of despair and disaster beyond the control of the State as well as the employers, appropriate remedial measures to be taken to avoid loss of production to employers and loss of earnings to employees as well in the short run to keep the economy of the country at subsistence level.
The first such possible remedial measure is permitting the employees to work from home. But its limitation is that its feasibility depends only on the sectoral classification of the industry like IT and ITE Services. It will not be possible in the manufacturing or face-to face service sectors. The only option in such cases is to pay the workmen without work or to ask them to avail of the leave at their credit. But the principle that leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right by the employees automatically gives rise to an equally acceptable principle that leave can not be unilaterally enforced by the employer.
I am given to understand that certain State Governments have advised the industrial employers to pay for the period of lock down despite no work. Large industries having reserves can do so for some time but it may not be possible for medium or small scale industries which were already worst-hit by the economic slow down. The possibility of application of Force Majeure clause or the Frustration of the contract clause can be considered to reduce the wage bills if the situation worsens. But it cannot be applied to the workman category of employees. Therefore, my submission, in the back drop of the unprecedented national lock down situation, is that a consultative approach is required to implement lay off as contemplated under the Industrial Disputes Act,1947.

From India, Salem

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