The pandemic COVID-19, has devastated & dented the economies of many countries and has been a cause of huge business losses. There are some legal questions that arise in the minds of employee regards to their legal rights w.r.t. the COVID-19. It is a pandemic that still persists despite the lock-down getting over since last few months. A main reason for this is the impact that COVID-19 had on the whole world.
Furthermore, the way the world has reacted to this pandemic, COVID-19, is part of the legal health considerations. Corona-virus, medically known as COVID-19, is apart from many other epidemics and pandemics that includes HIV or AIDS and E-Bola, & many other pandemics. This is significantly as the world since last 50 years has a history of pandemics and epidemics that have destroyed many lives.
THE GLOBAL IMPACTS OF COVID-19 & WHO:
Apart from the legal impacts associated with pandemic COVID-19, it’s the way it has touched lives of many people. This is mentally, socially and economically, as the lock-down and social distancing are the key reasons. These are reasons behind mental and social effects on people. Furthermore, the economic reasons have been due to business losses, man-power losses, and other financial and stock market reasons. Although, we are aware of the reasons but still there is less that can be done. This is vitally due to the magnitude of people who died all over the globalised world. In terms of the number of casualties, the top nations are USA, Brazil, U.K. and India. Thus, deadly might be the right word for such a case scenario which is highly & legally monitored by WHO i.e. World Health Organisation.
The legal rights of employee, Post COVID-19 lock-down, is an issue. A concern that holds deep priorities in terms of the amount of losses. Whether they should be working or not, this is the mental confusion in the minds of most employees. This is while the pandemic still persists and how they can tackle the situation if they are found positive COVID-19?
There are a set of questions known in common terms as FAQ’s that needs to be addressed while taking precautions during work. Some of the questions i.e. FAQ’s are as follows.
CAN ANY EMPLOYEE REFUSE RETURN TO WORK?
May have been asked by many people in the corporate world, this is key question apart from many other questions. This is especially after returning to work post lock-down and COVID-19. The employee has a legal right to refuse work if they have a reasonable ground that working for them is dangerous currently.
This is according to Lorenzo Lisi, The partner and head of the Workplace Law Group at Aird & Berlis. The refusal to return to work, or get back to work after returning is a mandatory & a legal right, in light of health & Safety issues. In Canada, especially where Health & Safety preferences are not only practised, but strictly monitored. The first and most prior response should be the addressing of all the safety precautions associated with the employee. According to Lisi, it’s the utmost responsibility of the employer to make sure that the employee stays safe at workplace and according to workplace regulations. The Health & Safety Act is a key determinant factor of the employee health & Safety.
CAN EMPLOYERS SCREEN THEIR STAFF FOR COVID-19?
Another key question that relates to COVID-19, and its outcomes in the corporate world. An employer can definitely screen their employees apart from giving tips of how to work safely during the pandemic. This is especially Post COVID-19 lock-down, as the screening process should take place quiet often to make sure things stay safe according to Health & Safety workplace guidelines.
However, in most cases, it should be the responsibility of the employee to make sure that they inform the HR regards to COVID-19 symptoms that they are facing. There shouldn’t be any questions in place regards to this as risk to health is a huge safety hazard. The symptoms includes fever, headaches, sneezing and coughs and are regarded as COVID symptoms according to WHO, i.e. World Health Organisation. WHO is a global body that relates to the monitoring and control of health activities in the world? These activities also include the monitoring of health related issues like epidemic and pandemic e.g. COVID-19, AIDS, E-bola, SARS, Polio and malaria etc.
It is the responsibility of the employers to consider the employee privacy laws as well take the advice of the designated legal consul. Legal makes things easy to govern and monitor in lights of laws and regulations.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO INFORM ‘HR’ IF EMPLOYEES CONTRACT COVID-19?
The first answer is ‘Yes’, the employee needs to inform the HRD i.e. Human Resource dept. regards to the contraction of COVID-19. The best way to inform HR is via written official E-mail or orally on phone, and enquire regards to the next legal step. The next step that the Human Resource dept. will recommend is to get a test result from a Hospital or health centre. If the result is positive, the HR would recommend that official guidelines from the Canadian Govt. must be followed. These are set of rules that say that until the time the employee are tested negative. Hence, the guidelines states that employees should remain away from work for a period of two weeks. The most important guidelines in such a case scenario is for both the employer and the employees to follow the advice of the Public Health Officials.