Covid-19 blues: Govt cautions against sending workers on unpaid forced leave

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

GOVERNMENT has warned employers against sending their workers on unpaid leave as part of desperate measures to reduce the impact brought to their businesses by the Covid-19 induced job lockdown.

In a statement to coincide with Workers Day this Friday, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima said it was illegal for employers to take the drastic steps.

“I wish to reiterate that it is illegal to force workers to go on unpaid leave during the lockdown period,” said the minister.

“Any consideration of such should be through collective bargaining and also subject to an agreement with workers concerned.”

Minister Mavima said any measures contrary to the agreed terms of employment should be mutually agreed between the parties.

Added the minister, “There should be no unlawful terminations or unprocedural retrenchments during the lockdown period.

“My Ministry stands ready to provide technical advice on issues regarding workplace measures to cope with COVID-19.”

The minister reminded partners within the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) on the need to preserve jobs, protect the right of workers and ensure the viability of enterprises as the country and the rest of the world battle the worst threat against humanity in decades.

“I have accordingly instructed my officers to upscale joint inspections across the nation with representatives of the workers and employers to ensure that fair labour standards are observed during the lockdown and that general compliance to COVID-19 measures are adhered to at all workplaces operating during the lockdown period,” the Minister said.

“We welcome information from stakeholders on specific establishments, sectors and issues that our inspectorate should focus on as they perform their duties.”

“The stakeholders have a role to perform by being “ears and eyes” of our inspectorate and we will respond swiftly to any such reports.

“I also expect my Officers to execute their duties professionally, any acts of corruption must be reported for the law to take its course.”