With each passing hour, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India is increasing rapidly. As of 13 March 2020 (5 pm), the number reached 81. The country has also reported one casualty in Karnataka.
Pursuant to our previous advisory dated 5 March 2020 and update dated 12 March 2020, we set out additional guidelines and regulations being issued by various State Governments to contain the pandemic.
- Self-reporting and mandatory sick leave in infected cases: Labour Department, Karnataka, issued a circular dated 5 March 2020 directing that employees showing symptoms of COVID-19 are required to immediately visit the nearest Employees' State Insurance Hospital for testing / treatment. If the employee is infected, he must obtain a certificate from the medical officer in this regard and submit the same to the employer. Upon receipt of such certificate, the employer would be required to grant 28 days of paid sick leave to the employee. Where the Employees' State Insurance Act 1948 is not applicable, employers would be required to provide 28 days of paid sick leave under the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act 1961.
- STPI's guidelines on work from home: The Software Technology Parks of India, a body set up under the aegis of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, issued guidelines on 12 March 2020 to establishments registered as software technology park / electronic hardware technology park units. Such units have been advised to consider requiring employees to work from home using the laptop/desktop provided to them.
- Shutting down of public places: The Government has announced shutting down of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week. Instructions have also been issued to avoid all kinds of conferences for a week.
In addition to the above, the State Government has notified the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 (EDA). A detailed analysis of the Regulations may be accessed here.
The Government of Haryana has invoked the EDA and issued Haryana Epidemic Disease, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020. It is provided that:
- every person arriving in the state from a COVID-19 affected area in the last 14 days (presumably from the date of arrival in India) is required to report to the nearest government hospital;
- if such person is not displaying any flu-like symptoms, he / she should nonetheless self-isolate himself / herself;
- certain authorities shall act as 'authorized persons' responsible for enforcing the regulations, including Director – Health Services, Director – Medical Education and Research (state level), and Deputy Commissioner (district level).
- authorized persons shall have the power to isolate a person if he / she has had a history of travel to a COVID-19 affected area or has come into contact with a person from such area who is symptomatic.
- non-compliance with the provisions would entail a penalty under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The Government of Delhi has declared COVID-19 as an epidemic and invoked the EDA. Accordingly, all educational institutions and cinema halls shall remain closed until 31 March 2020.
a) The Government of Odisha has ordered closure of all educational institutions, cinema halls and swimming pools in the state till 31 March 2020.
b) The state cabinet reportedly approved the COVID-19 Odisha Regulations, 2020 on 13 March 2020. The regulations, which will be valid for a period of one year, contain provisions which are similar to those set out under the regulations issued by Karnataka and Haryana.
State Governments are taking cue from each other on measures to be taken to combat COVID-19 and its impact. Employers must regularly monitor these developments. Additionally, several establishments are offering remote working options to their employees, allowing them to work from home. Depending on their operational requirements and the locations they are based in, employers should assess how to accommodate the health and safety concerns of their employees in the most efficient manner without disrupting business continuity.
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