EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR MATTERS AND THE IMPACT OF COVID-19

ATE/CIRC/01/2020                                                                                                                                            18th March 2020 

 

TO: ALL MEMBERS

 

Dear Esteemed Members,

 

RE: NOTICE TO MEMBERS REGARDING EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR MATTERS AND THE IMPACT OF COVID-19

 

Since Monday the 16th of March 2020, there have been reported cases of infection of Covid-19 in Tanzania. As a result, the Government has issued a number of directives and specific recommendations on public health awareness. Obviously, there will be an impact on society and business across all sectors of the economy.  The Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) encourages its members as employers to ensure the safety, health and welfare of their employees. Furthermore, employers should carry out a risk assessment to identify the risks of a coronavirus outbreak at work, and implement steps to minimise that risk.

Subsequently, ATE has been receiving a number of concerns and enquiries with regard to employment and labour related matters such as preventive measures to take to protect their workforce; retrenchment procedures and suspension of business; unpaid leave due to loss of business; employees’ entitlements in relation to leave and sick pay; and treatment of employees during this period.

The Employment and Labour Relations Act 2004 (ELRA) provides for procedures on retrenchment, sick leave but not on Unpaid leave. However, Company employment contracts and policies may have provisions for unpaid leave and other leave entitlements.

The Association of Tanzania Employers continues to consult with the Government and the Trade Unions on the situation and its effects on business.

In view of the above, ATE would like to advise our members the following:

  1. Bilaterally, to hold consultation meetings with workers and Trade Unions at the workplace with regard to unpaid leave but also consider other flexible working arrangements with their employees such as allowing the employee to take annual leave during these difficult times waiting for the situation to return to normal.
  1. For the jobs which are shorter and are tasks related, employers can issue Specific tasks contracts.
  1. Employers are encouraged to consider if their employees can work from home especially where the job does not necessarily require physical presence at a workplace. 
  2. Employers are also encouraged to review and update their policies and procedures which may be affected by the current situation including sickness and absence policies. Section 32 of ELRA requires the employee to produce a medical certificate from a medical practitioner in case of sickness. 
  • In a case where an employee who is following official guidance to self-isolate and who has flu-like symptoms may have difficulty obtaining an Excuse from Duty (ED) from a medical practitioner, employers should, therefore, consider to be flexible, and perhaps make exceptions.
  • Where an employee voluntarily remains away from the workplace due to self-isolation without discussing this with the employer, there may be more scope for considering such leave to be unpaid, although this will depend on the circumstances and Company policies. 

We continue to consult with the Government and request employers to wait for Government directives. We advise employers to monitor the situation as it develops and prepare their businesses by reviewing their policies and procedures depending on changing circumstances. For all enquiries with regard to Covid-19 kindly reach us through covid19@ate.or.tz

 

Kindly be guided.

 

Yours Sincerely,

ASSOCIATION OF TANZANIA EMPLOYERS

Dr. Aggrey K. Mlimuka

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & CEO