Best Practices for Essential Service Workers
- Workplaces that have been identified as essential services by the Indian government must ensure the welfare of their employees.
- This includes implementing best practices like flexible working hours, providing employee health insurance, and stopping biometric attendance.
- According to some media, the government may consider extending the confinement after April 14, 2020. This remains to be confirmed.
India has imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 25, 2020 to April 14, 2020 – to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the country. However, the number of reported cases continues to rise daily, leading many to speculate that the lockdown could be extended beyond April 14. For example, Odisha State has already extended its own state lockdown until April 30. However, it should be noted that the federal government has yet to announce such a nationwide extension of the lockdown.
While most organizations have remained operational as employees work from home, this has not been the case for those categorized as essential services by the government. Some of the essential services are hospitals and all related medical establishments including their manufacturing and distribution units, grocery stores, print and electronic media, grocery stores, banks, delivery of essential goods through e-commerce , the manufacturing units of all essential products and the Internet. and streaming services to name a few.
As a result, several employees had to travel to get to work even during the closure. These workplaces have therefore been required to put in place certain best practices to ensure the well-being of all its employees and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Businesses in India must comply with all guidelines and advisories issued by the Ministry of Public Health and the State and National Government.
Here are some steps organizations engaged in essential services can take to protect their staff during lockdown.
Getting to the workplace
With travel restricted during the lockdown across India, companies can send letters to employees stating that they are considered essential staff and should be allowed to travel to their place of work. This letter can help employees avoid unnecessary problems with the police during their trip to the office. Businesses should work with their legal department to make sure employees have all the necessary paperwork with them so their journey to the office can be seamless.
Priority to employee health
Employees engaged in essential services are risking their safety to be on the job, so it is the responsibility of the organization to put health and safety measures in place for all its staff. This includes providing masks and sanitizer to each employee and providing information on how to prevent COVID-19. This includes encouraging hand washing and practicing social distancing in the workplace.
Even for daily or weekly meetings, the organization should avoid in-person meetings and instead use technologies such as video conferencing and instant messaging platform.
While it is necessary to provide information and resources, it is even more important that employers invest in a good insurance plan for their employees.
Companies must also stop using biometric presence to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through contact. If possible, companies should regularly monitor their employees using infrared thermometers.
Keep employees informed
The organization should ensure that HR continues to keep staff members informed of the latest news, from sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Ministry of Health.
Additionally, HR should also notify employees immediately if anyone in the office or office building has tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, if a parent or family member of an employee has tested positive, the rest of the employees should be informed as soon as possible.
If someone in the office is found to be infected, the state or district administration should be notified as soon as possible so that the office can be disinfected. Quarantine procedures should also be implemented as advised by health authorities.
While it may be important for employees to report to their place of work, the organization must also provide flexibility to its employees in terms of working from home and remote operations.
The organization should not terminate any employee who tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, they should be given any amount of time off they may need to recuperate in the event of illness and should be entitled to full pay without any deductions.
Although the business may be classified as an essential service, it is likely that not all employees will be essential. For example, in a hospital, medical professionals are essential while accountants may not be at the moment – and may work from home. Therefore, businesses should only ask essential employees to report to work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Non-essential employees can continue to operate remotely and can be called on site only in the event of an emergency.