Employer-Employee relation due to Covid-19 (Employees’ rights)
The pandemic has seriously altered how we work not only the methods, the patterns but also the skills of an employee And in such ambience the most fundamental question arises is, What responsibilities or duties does an employer have toward their employees, what rights does an employee possess etc…. which sums up asking that what basically does an organisation offers to their employees in such scenarios.
So here we goanna try to answer some of the fundamental questions
Is work from home (WFH) Important for all employees?
WFH is a concept were your home is converted into your workplace, usually which was a very common concept for US based companies but in India rarely a company was used to offer their employees with this concept but after the Pandemic the only option left with the companies in India was WFH and with increase in no covid-19 cases, The government made it very clear that no employee should be working offline and hence for the first time The Union labour ministry incorporated the ‘work from home’ option in establishments, as part of its draft model standing order for the service sector.
Standing orders are basically an employment contract that spell out the rules of conduct for employees in industrial establishments that have over 300 workers and for every company it is very important to have a standing order approved the state or central government.
So if an employee is told to come to office offline he can refuse the offer and opt for WFH option
Can an employer reduce the employees’ salaries amidst the pandemic?
During financial crisis the very basic thing a company does is pay cut or job cut for cost reduction, but is it right? Well morally no because this act affect the employees morale negatively and arise insecurities in him which can affect his working methods, but legally yes it is companies discretion powers and that is why some companies pay full salaries to their employees even during the lockdown whereas there are companies who pay 30% of their salaries to the employees who are working from home.
As according to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (the Act) governs such arbitrary reductions in salaries/wages of employees. Section 9A as read with Schedule IV attached to the Act provides that any such reduction in salary/wages or work time or days will amount to change in conditions of service. As per the Act, no such change can be effected without furnishing concerned workers with 21 days’ notice prior to such change.
Hence it is quite evident that the scenarios have changed in past 1 year due to the pandemic and therefore if the company wishes they can reduce the pay if the employees are working from home or there is any change in their working methods.
Can an employer conduct medical tests for its employees?
Although there is no legal obligation on the employer to conduct medical test for the employees still there are certain sectors that have imposed medical tests across their staff rolls such as hospitality and aviation, employers from other sectors may conduct medical tests for its employees (workmen and non-workmen) provided consent is duly obtained.
But what I think is that the medical test for the employees should be conducted by the employer because, if the employer-employee relation/bond is principled then only a firm/corporation can succeed and if the employers take care of their employees as their family members the employee’smorale will boost up and will work harder to bring affirmative results.
If an employee has confirmed case of covid-19 what are the employer’s obligation
While none of the relevant notifications/circulars issued by the Central and State Governments so far directs mandatory disclosures from employers, if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, out of abundant caution, perhaps the employer should choose to inform the Government.
Should the use of bio-metric devices in their premises be continued?
Bio metrics require the physical touch which certainly increase the chances of this virus spreading as this virus is said to be an air-born disease and hence spreads through air and contact. The Central and some State Governments have themselves suspended the use of biometrics for their own employees and also many private establishments have adapted the system of manual attendance rather than bio-metric amidst of the pandemic
What obligation does an employer have towards medical expenses of an employee affected by Covid-19?
The answer to this question depends upon on how the employee (workmen and non-workmen) contracted the infection i.e., whether in office or on a business trip or in circumstances entirely disconnected with his/her professional commitments.
Seeing the seriousness of the virus Karnataka has offered their employees 28 days paid sick leave. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide mandatory paid sick leave.
According to the guidelines issued by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) on March 4, 2020 that the insurance policies that covers hospitalization expenses should ensure that the cases related to COVID-19 are handled expeditiously.
But some company policies are different from other for example well-known companies like KPMG, Deloitte and BIG4 they pay their employees medical expenses (up to 3.5 lakh) through their self-made insurance policies and in situations like this where it is hard for a patient to find oxygen, beds and plasma certain companies are buying and providing these vital things for their employees whereas many companies are not even paying for extra sick leaves if their employee is unable to work due to covid-19. As these things depends certainly on company’s policies their terms and conditions.
Name: Akual Chawla
Year of Study: 3rd year
Institution name: Chanderprabhu Jain college of higher studies