COVID-19 – Advisories issued by Central and State Governments for Employers (PART 2)

Further to our Part 1, this Part seeks to outline the various advisories issued by the Central and State Governments to the Employers in respect of their employees and the operation of their businesses, during the COVID-19 outbreak and the nationwide lockdown that has been in effect from 25th March 2020.

Advisories for Employers

Date of Issuance 
 
Name of Ministry/ Department Summary
5th March 2020 Government of Karnataka The Government has issued a circular to employers requiring them to grant 28 days paid leave to employees affected by COVID-19, upon submission of relevant declarations to the employer.
20th March 2020 The Ministry of Labour and Employment The Ministry has advised the Employers of public/ private establishments not to terminate the services of their employees or reduce their wages, particularly casual or contractual workers. Further, the advisory also states that if any worker takes leave during this period, he must be deemed to be on duty, without any deduction in wages.
20th March 2020 The Commissioner of Labour, Government of Maharashtra The Government has advised that all employers of public/ private establishments should extend cooperation by not terminating the services of their employees or reducing their wages due to COVID-19 outbreak. In case, the office of an establishment becomes non-operational as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the employees of such office should be deemed to be on duty. See our updated post on this where on 31st March the advisories have been made mandatory.
20th March 2020 Government of Uttar Pradesh The Government of Uttar Pradesh has released a notification requiring the employers  to grant 28 days paid leave to employees affected by COVID-19, upon submission of medical certificate at the time of re-joining the duties after recovering from the same. The notification further states that all employee/ workmen of the shops and commercial establishment or factories which have been closed temporarily by the orders of the State Government or the District Magistrate shall be provided with paid leaves by the Employer for the period of such temporary closure.
23rd March 2020 Health, Medical and Family Welfare Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh The Notification states that all the Government as well as private establishments shall make payments of wages/ salaries to the workers/ employees including those working under contract and outsourcing fully during the lockdown period. Any violation under this Notification will be punishable under the Epidemics Diseases Act ,1897.
23rd March 2020 The Labour, Employment, Training and Factories Department, Government of Telangana
The Notification mandated that all shops and commercial establishments subject to lockdown shall consider the closure/ lockdown period as a paid holiday for all categories of employees.
27th March 2020 The Ministry of Labour and Employment The Notification amends the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952. The Notification states that the Commissioner may permit a non-refundable advance from the provident fund account to any member of the Scheme (employed in any establishment or factory located in an area declared as affected by outbreak of any pandemic or epidemic), not exceeding the basic wages and dearness allowances of that member for 3 months or up to 75% of the amount standing to his credit in the fund, whichever is less.

Similar notifications have been issued by the Government of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Haryana to safeguard the employees. The companies/ MNCs having establishments in multiple locations throughout India, will have to check for the regulations imposed under each such location.

Orders/ Notifications issued by Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on 13th March 2020 ordered:

  1. All e-commerce platforms to ensure maintenance of proper hygiene and sanitation of the last mile delivery personnel kitchen, packing areas and delivery vehicles and to clean and disinfect them with detergent/ soap water or alcohol-based sanitizer from time to time.
  2. No manufacturer, importer, packer, re-labeler, distributor or retailer shall issue any advertisement in any media using coronavirus, COVID-19 and other variant of these names and making wrongful claims about their products and services.
  3. Specifying the country of origin is a mandatory declaration which needs to be affixed on the labels under the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011. Retailers and e-commerce companies should remain vigilant in complying with laws and regulations requiring labels accurately describing the location where any item was made, manufactured, or assembled.

The Ministry, by its notification dated 20th March 2020, also advised State Governments and local administration to ensure that e-commerce operations, wholesalers, their vendors and third party delivery partners who are part of the supply and logistics chain are not subject to prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Orders by Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Food Processing Industries

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, on 24th March 2020, enforced complete nationwide lockdown for a period of 21 days with effect from 25th March 2020.

Essential Goods and Services during the Lockdown period

  1. Public utilities, post offices, treasury, RBI, etc. with bare minimum staff.
  2. Hospitals and all related medical establishments, including their manufacturing and production units, both in public and private sector such as pharmacies, dispensaries, pharmaceutical research labs, clinics, nursing homes, etc. and its related transportation services to remain functional.
  3. All manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, medical devices, their raw materials and intermediaries, coal and mineral production, manufacturing units of packaging material for food items, drugs and medical devices.
  4. All transport (air, rail and roadways) services relating to transportation of essential goods and fire, law and order and other emergency services.
  5. All Commercial and private establishments dealing in –
  • shops dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and meat and fish;
  • banks, insurance companies and ATMS;
  • print and electronic media;
  • telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting, information technology services (only pertaining to essential services);
  • e-commerce of essential goods such as food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment;
  • petrol pumps and gas;
  • power generation and transmission;
  • capital and debt market services under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Board of India;
  • cold storage and warehousing services;
  • ATM Operations and cash management agencies; and
  • private security services.

An Order has been issued by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries dated 26th March 2020, through which a Grievance Redressal Cell has been set up by the Ministry, to resolve the problems being faced by the food processing industry during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Ministry has also asked the authorities to provide clear instructions to the police and transport officials to enable continued functioning of these essential food products factories, movement of their products and raw materials and also allowing their employees/ workers to attend these factories. A list of essential food products has also been detailed in the Order.

Another Order was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 26th March 2020 which captures the standard operating procedure (“SOPs”) for maintaining the supply of essential food products/ goods during the nationwide lockdown. The SOPs state that the factories, warehouses, supply chain of essential food products/ goods (whether involved in manufacturing, wholesaling or retailing of such products/ goods), should be allowed to operate. The Ministry has further clarified that the employees/ workers engaged in such factories, warehouses, supply chain shall be allowed to commute on the basis of e-pass or any other certification issued by the concerned local authorities, on production of a valid photo identity card.

See Part I

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