The Government, at every level, whether the State or the Centre, is continuing to grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak in the Country. One of the decisions taken by the Government in order to prevent and contain the pandemic has been the extension of the lockdown till May 03, 2020. Further, the State governments have also issued various notifications and advisories for the businesses, employers and the employees. Please refer to our detailed article on guidelines and advisories issued by the State Governments here. Since our last update on COVID-19, the key developments and updates as on April 24, 2020, have been set our here under.
The Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures ("SOPs") issued by States:
- The State Governments of Andhra Pradesh1, Haryana2, Karnataka3, Kerala4, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh5 have issued guidelines which are in consonance with the revised6 consolidated guidelines that have been issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs ("MHA"); and
- The State Governments of Kerela and Andhra Pradesh7 have also issued a separate set of guidelines pertaining to SOPs for the functioning of industries. The Government of Gujarat has issued SOPs for IT and ITES.
State-wise updates on COVID-19
1. Andhra Pradesh
On April 18, 2020, the State Government reiterated its order on payment of wages to the employees and workers without any deductions. It also directed non-termination of casual as well as contract labour during this period.
2. West Bengal
On April 17, 2020, the Government of West Bengal ordered and allowed IT and ITES services to resume their operations from April 20, 2020, with a maximum strength of 25% of their regular work force. Further, the operations may only resume if the IT and ITES adhere to the social distancing and health hygiene norms.
The Government of Karnataka, vide an addendum dated April 22, 2020, ordered IT and ITES services to resume operations with essential minimum staff only. The remaining staff has been directed to continue to work from home.
On April 19, 2020, the Government extended the lockdown in the State till May 7, 2020. It has implemented additional stringent measures and is maintaining status quo in the State as was prior to the consolidated revised guidelines issued by the MHA.
5. Tamil Nadu
Upon the recommendations of the Expert Committee, the State Govt. has decided to continue the lockdown in the State till May 3, 2020, in accordance with the conditions notified in the order dated March 25, 2020. In addition to this, the State has also issued further orders on April 23, 2020 permitting certain activities to resume function.
Vide an order dated April 17, 2020, the State Government has allowed certain exemptions to factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948 starting from April 20, 2020 until July 19, 2020. These exemptions includeü Adult workers shall be allowed to work for upto 12 hours a day and 72 hours/a week; ü Interval/ rest of at least 30 minutes must be given after continuous work of 6 hours; ü Female workers shall not be allowed/required to work between 7 pm - 6 am; and ü Wages for the increased working hours shall/must be paid in proportion to the existing wages of the employees.
The Government of Punjab has vide an order dated April 20, 2020, has extended the number of working hours of factories to a maximum of 12 hours/day. It has further directed that the maximum spread shall be 13 hours/day, provided strict adherence of provisions on social distancing and sanitization. These provisions shall remain in force for three months, until July 19, 2020.
8. Himachal Pradesh
The Government on April 21, 2020 has issued an order allowing the following exemptions, April 21, 2020 onwards until July 20, 2020, in respect of factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948- ü Adult workers shall be allowed to work for up to 12 hours a day and 72 hours a week; ü An interval/ rest of minimum 30 minutes ought to be given after continuous work of 6 hours; and ü c. Wages for the increased working hours must be paid in proportion to the existing fixed minimum wages.
On April 20, 2020, the State Government had extended the deadline for filing annual returns for the year 2019, under the, and governed by the Maharashtra Shops And Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 2017 to July 31 , 2020.
This update is intended to provide an overview of the relevant-applicable legal framework, however, since the subject matter pertains to an evolving issue, the author strongly recommends to seek specific legal advice relevant to your business scenario before implementing any of the definitive measures mentioned herein above.
2 Regarding implementation of consolidated revised guidelines for containment of COVID-19 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs GOI dated April 20, 2020 at https://haraadesh.nic.in/
5 No.264/2020CEX-3, dated April 16, 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.