Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus issued guidelines today to employers, unions and employees designed to deal with the Covid-19 virus and ‘mitigate the obvious personal and family logistical inconveniences and the consequential significant workplace adjustments which are expected to be faced, as a result of the inevitable decision which had to be taken to have our schools and universities closed for one week in the first instance’.
The guidelines, issued at a press conference this morning, are:
- Children should not be allowed in workplaces or work facilities, inclusive of company vehicles;
- Parents are encouraged to use whatever available support system—in the first instance—to take care of their children, so they can report for duty;
- Employers are encouraged to implement remote work policies, where possible, to minimise the need for employees with children to physically attend work;
- Where it is not possible for employees with children to work from home, employers are asked to consider shift work, staggered hours of work and/or rostering;
- Where there are both parents in a family, one parent is encouraged to stay at home with the children while the other reports for duty;
- Where employees cannot work for home and do not have a support system to care for their children, employers are asked not to penalise such employees with disciplinary action or by non-payment of salary;
- In cases of labour issues arising from such such measures between either the employer, recognised majority union or employee that cannot be resolved, either can contact the Conciliation Advisory and Advocacy Division at the Ministry of Labour at firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 299-0300 ext 2043 or 2144;
- Employees are advised that if they are not sick, do not stay away from work.
Baptiste-Primus also said that, for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, employers are ‘required to implement pandemic leave provisions within their organisations in a compassionate manner, which ensures business continuity while securing the national interest’.
Public service officers eligible for pandemic leave are:
- Public officers—whether permanent, temporary, monthly paid and daily rated;
- Fixed-term contract employees;
- Short-term contract employees;
- On the job trainees;
- Office holders within the purview of the salary reviews commission whose office falls within the public service, such as top managers within the judiciary and legal services.
Employees can only use pandemic leave after they have exhausted their personal leave or sick leave; and it is meant to cover all work absences—not just for persons showing symptoms of illness or who have tested positive.
Essential services, at present, do not have the option for pandemic leave. However, if they test positive for Covid-19, they will be eligible to extended leave with full pay.