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Business and Employment Continuity Measures During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Business and Employment Continuity Measures During The Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic (the Pandemic) has turned our world upside down and forced us to embrace a frightening new normal.

Governments world-over have implemented active fiscal and monetary policies, extended social protection, reinforced occupational safety, and health, and strengthened social dialogue. Despite these measures, the Pandemic has severely impacted on businesses all over the world. The International Labour Organization (the ILO) estimates that the Pandemic is expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. More than four out of five people (81 percent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.  These numbers far exceed the effects of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

The Pandemic is not just a health crisis, but an economic and employment emergency. For employer’s world over, the fundamental concern is safeguarding their businesses as going concerns, conversely, employees’ fundamental concern is job protection. A balance in expectations between the interests of the employer and the employee must be maintained to ensure that businesses continue, and jobs remain protected.

Taking early, bold and effective action will reduce short-term risks to employees and long-term costs to businesses and the economy. We believe that there are immediate practical measures that businesses can adopt to manage the Pandemic. Some of the measures include the following:

  1. Business Health and Safety measures – The number one priority for any business should be to ensure the health and safety of its staff, customers, and business partners during the Pandemic. The following health and safety measures should be adopted by businesses:
  • adherence to Government, Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Labour protocols to ensure that the Pandemic is not spread or transmitted at the workplace;
  • continued remittance of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions to provide minimum health protection to members of staff;
  • allow employees to take sick leave where necessary to ensure that they can take care of those who are sick, quarantined or caring for children, elderly or other family members;
  • ensure that businesses maintain the occupation and health insurance to protect employees and the business against risks associated with occupational health and safety;
  • reduce office capacity by implementing staggered arrival, departure, and break times;
  • ask external messengers to call upon arrival and/or leave items outside the office instead of entering the lobby or reception area;
  • preparing organizational Covid-19 policies and protocols in adherence to the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour advisories. This will ensure that staff, customers and business partners continue working safely and responsibly; and
  • training members of staff on the organizational Covid-19 policies and protocols to ensure that the members of staff, customers, and business partners understand their responsibilities to the organization.
  1. Business and Employment Continuity measures – The second priority for any business should be to ensure that the business is maintained as a going concern to ensure that the business survives the Pandemic. Some of the business and employment continuity measures include:
  • preparation and adoption of business continuity measures/policy to ensure that the business reviews the impact of the Pandemic in the short and long-term;
  • preparation and adoption of risk management policies/measures for a 360-degree analysis on the entire business to assess the type of risk, the level of risk and come up with mitigation measures;
  • reducing or cutting down on all non-essential expenses such as non-essential allowances;
  • with the consultation and consent of employees, reduce staff salaries at each level/grade to ensure that operating expenses are reduced;
  • encouraging employees to take part of their annual leave during this period;
  • adopt flexible working hours to allow members of staff to work from home where they can also take care of their family and children during the Pandemic;
  • adoption of shift work rotas, where applicable, to reduce the staff in the office;
  • adoption of ICT facilities for staff, customer and business partner communication and sales;
  • take advantage of this period, to conduct staff training and capacity building through the ICT facilities such as video and teleconferencing;
  • with the consent of employees, varying employment contracts to change the working hours, adopt part-time work measures and restructure jobs; and
  • implementing redundancies and voluntary early retirement schemes.

The words of the ILO Director-General on the Pandemic are fitting for businesses at this time, “Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies… We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse.”

The proposed continuity measures can assist businesses and employers to lessen the impact of the Pandemic on their businesses. Should you require any clarification or have any questions regarding the business and employment continuity measures, please do not hesitate to contact James Wairoto at jwairoto@mwc.legal.

Please note that this e-alert is meant for general information only and should not be relied on without seeking specific subject matter legal advice.

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