• Dr. Mohan Dewan assisted by Adv. Aboli Kherde and Adv. Shubham Borkar

As the 4 consequent nation-wide lockdowns, that began on March 25, 2020 and lasted till May 31, 2020 come to an end, we analyse the situations faced by the Indian Workforce amidst this global health emergency created by the spread of COVD 19.

These continuous Lockdowns have brought the entire nation to an economic halt, be it MNCs or MSMEs. Such a halt has resulted in the loss of revenue and the enterprises are overburdened by the operations cost and the cost of stocked up inventory. Industrial units are shut, offices are closed, hence all persons, whether laborers or the employees of private firms are unable to work. Some organisations have resorted to Work From Home if the nature of work allows the same, however tasks such as court hearings, service management, constructions, transportation, domestic helps, etc. which require physical presence of the employee/ laborers are not able to do so. To secure their interests, a series of guidelines and policies have been introduced.

Working under Lock-down:

• The Ministry of Labour & Employment’s order[1] dated 20.03.2020 has advised all the employers of Public / Private Establishments not to terminate their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers from the job, or reduce their wages.

• If any worker takes leave or if the place of employment is made non-operational due to COVID-19, the employees of such unit will be deemed to be on duty.

• All the employers of public/private establishments to extend their coordination by not terminating their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers during this period as the termination of employment or reduction in wages would further hamper their morale to fight this pandemic

The Ministry of Home Affairs also vide its Order dated 29.03.2020 directs the employers to make payments of wages to their workers, at their workplaces, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during lockdown.

Restarting Manufacturing Industrial Units

National Disaster Management Authority (“NDMA”) has issued a series of guidelines for restarting manufacturing industries after the lockdown period. It has been stated that the first week should be considered as the trial or test run period, employers need to ensure all safety protocols to maintain social distancing and try not to achieve high production targets:

• All lockout and tag-out procedures should be in place daily. The owners should conduct a complete safety audit of the entire unit, clean pipelines, equipment and discharge lines as per set procedure, run rotatory equipment under supervision, and check boilers, furnaces or heat exchangers for lining and signs of wear and tear.

• Hand sanitizers, masks, face protection shields and PPEs have to be provided by the employer. 24-hour sanitization of the factory premises needs to be ensured, accommodation of workers should also be sanitized regularly,

• Temperature should be checked twice a day.

• Symptomatic persons should not report to work.

• The staff should be educated on COVID-19 health and prevention, quarantine measures for supply and storage of goods, isolation, and sanitization of finished goods and delivery of goods in shifts.

• Barriers should be created to ensure the physical distance within the work floor and dining facilities. Work should be in shifts.

• The factories operating round-the-clock at full production capacity should consider a one-hour gap between shifts, except for units requiring continuous operations. Managerial and administrative staff should work one shift at 33% capacity; but overriding priority should be given to those dealing with safety.

• The employees should not share tools or workstations to the extent possible. Factories have to prepare accommodation to isolate workers if needed.

• HR has to help manage the whole process for the individual. All traveling employees have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.[2]

1) DO No. M-11011/08/2020-Media dated 20 March 2020, Ministry of Labour and Employment

2) Guidelines for Restarting Industrial Units by NDMA Ministry of Home Affairs dated 9th May 2020


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