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COVID-19 Update for Entities with Manufacturing Facilities in the State of Karnataka, India 

by Vijay Ravi, Tushar Chowdhary

Published: March, 2020

Submission: March, 2020

 



As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Karnataka through Department of Factories, Boilers, Industrial Safety & Health has issued a circular dated March 14, 2020 (“Circular”) providing certain guidelines for factories / manufacturing entities situated within the State. Employers have been instructed to strictly comply with the prescribed requirements along with the directions of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.


 As per the Circular, in addition to the provisions related to ‘Health & Safety’ provided under chapter III of the Factories Act, 1948 and related provisions of the Karnataka Factory Rules, 1969, employers are required to comply with the following requirements, which we have broadly categorized into four (4) parts:


Please read below...


 
Shift & Working Hours

(a) explore the possibility of providing flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g. staggered shifts) to increase the physical distance between employees


(b) explore the possibility of employees working on alternate days or extra shifts to reduce total number of employees in a facility at a given time


(c) creches may be closed and employees availing creche facility may be placed on a paid additional leave till the current crisis is resolved


Health & Safety

(a) designate a specific place to wash hands and promote frequent and thorough hand washing. If soap and running water are not immediately available, alcohol-based hand rubs containing not less than 60% alcohol, shall be provided for use


(b) where an employee is suspected of possible exposure of COVID-19, use of public transport must be avoided to carry the affected employee to a hospital


(c) take appropriate steps to limit spread of respiratory secretions of a person by providing face masks to the factory workers


(d) discourage ‘in-person’ meetings with employees, clients and customers


(e) discourage workers from using other employee’s phone, desk, tools and equipment


Internal Policies


(a) encourage workers to stay at home if they are sick


(b) take appropriate steps to identify and isolate potentially infected individuals at workplace


(c) develop policies and procedures for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19


(d) wherever possible, develop policies and procedures for immediately isolating people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, and train workers to implement the same. Where isolation rooms are not readily available, employers must designate a separate place within the premises having closed doors as a temporary arrangement for such isolation


(e) maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay at home to care for a sick family member


Hygiene & Preventive Steps


(a) encourage respiratory etiquette at workplace


(b) requirement of medical certificate to validate illness related to respiratory problems shall be suspended


(c) maintain regular house-keeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment and other elements of the work environment


(d) explore the possibility of staggered lunch timings to avoid large gatherings in canteen / dining halls. Appropriate steps should be taken to protect potential contamination of food items


 


It is relevant to mention that earlier this month, the Government of Karnataka had issued a circular dated March 05, 2020 requiring all establishments (excluding factories and manufacturing facilities) in the State to grant 28 days of additional paid sick leave to any employee who has been diagnosed of COVID-19. In our view, there is a possibility that an employee working in a factory who is affected by COVID-19 could claim similar benefits from the employer. As the present situation is unprecedented, there is a risk that the employer may have to concede to the employee’s claim and extend the benefit of 28 days of additional paid sick leave.


Please note that as on date, the State of Karnataka is the only State which has issued formal guidance documents to clarify the obligations and liabilities of employers towards their employees during this crisis. We expect other Indian States to issue similar guidelines shortly.


 


For additional information or queries, please feel free to reach our Employment team:


Mr. Vijay Ravi [email protected]


Mr. Tushar Chowdhary [email protected]


 


 


 

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