Dear Caroline, some companies like to cut costs even when there is no economic crisis. If such companies do not follow safety guidelines on coronavirus such as providing employees with hand sanitiser, soap, ensuring social distancing or let employees feeling unwell come to work, can they be reported? Who does one report to if an employer is not enforcing health guidelines? Bena
Dear Bena, managing costs has become paramount for many organisations during this Covid pandemic and while it is a necessary evil, it needs to be managed carefully. A priority during this pandemic is for organisations to balance costs, business operations while also ensuring the well-being of employees. All businesses want to survive through the pandemic with minimal consequences. WHO and governments the world over have provided best practice guidelines of what needs to be in place to safeguard human life. While many employees will want to continue to work during this pandemic, it is important they understand their employer must in the first instance have their consent to work during the pandemic.
In this regard, an agreement is made, and each party has an obligation to provide certain conditions that guarantee the safety of the workers, including the provision of safe working environment. The agreement is likely to include a guarantee of the provision of PPE (personal protective equipment), transport to and form work as advised in the various guidelines; hand washing facilities.
In the event an organisation is operating without employee consent and has not followed the guidelines for operations and is putting its employees at risk to the illness, your first point of call is likely to be police or Ministry of Health.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2006 also provides legal obligation for the employer to provide a safe working environment and to protect its employees from the spread of Covid-19, deviation from the law also provides a legal avenue to hold the organisation accountable.