The Minister of Employment and Labour issued a Directive on 4 June, under the Disaster Management Act (DMA), to provide clarity on an employee’s right to refuse to work due to Covid-19. Employers and employees alike will need to be aware of the terms of this Directive.
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With the easing of the nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the Government’s “Risk Adjusted Strategy” (comprising of five lockdown levels), more and more business can lawfully operate again. As a result, employees will be returning to work and employers will be obliged to remunerate them again. The unfortunate reality, however, is that environment within which businesses will now operate is vastly different to that which existed prior to the lockdown. An altered business climate coupled with a reduction in demand for certain services and goods may leave a number of businesses in a difficult situation. They will be open for business and will have all their staff able to tender their services but the businesses may not have work for their employees to perform or sufficient business to cover the costs of being in business. The future of some businesses may depend on doing business differently by finding ways of cutting costs, reducing expenses and even right-sizing, at least in the short to medium term.