In a recent development by Sindh Government, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has issued directives for all employers to not fire their workers amid coronavirus lockdown. He has further ordered all companies and private sectors to count the lockdown days as paid leaves for the workers. The Corona-virus pandemic continues to create economic and social hurdles for the people of Pakistan. With Pakistan’s economy already in grave stress, COVID-19 is proving to be a great challenge for all administrative bodies.
Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014
The above decision was taken in light of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014 which states that the employers are bound to pay their workers and employees full salaries in case of a national emergency produced as a result of an epidemic outbreak. They cannot resort to laying off, downsizing or firing any individual from their companies to relieve their financial burden because it is against the National Labour Law.
Murad Ali Shah also advised the law enforcement bodies to go for strict actions and accountability against the employers who do not follow the directives of paid leave. He further stated the the actions must be in accordance to the section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code as described in Epidemic Diseases Act.
Labour Alliance of Pakistan
Leaders and spokesperson of the Labour Alliance of Pakistan appreciated the efforts of Murad Ali Shah for the protection of the rights of all workers during these uncertain and difficult times. They further addressed the labour community of Pakistan and advised them to stay calm and contained as they will be paid for the days during lock-down. The alliance elaborated the narrative of the Sindh government that it had announced a paid leave for workers belonging to all walks of life, including factories, and industries.
This has brought a great sigh of relief for all workers in Sindh who have suffered a lot due to closure of industries in the lockdown period.
Legal Action Against the Scofflaw
Directors and joint directors of the Department of Labour and Human Resources were empowered with immediate effect under the said law to take any legal action on any contravention of the issued order and bring into notice major violations. The provincial government is striving to formulate a task force responsible for the determination of the financial losses to industries and companies and to find economic solutions to ensure that the rights of workers were protected.
Some exceptions from the notice were also declared. Necessary or unavoidable religious rites like Namaaz-e-Janaza, Burial and related events are exempt and not a violation, provided that all precautions against spread of disease are taken like use of masks and a safe distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) is maintained between people gathered in small numbers/close family members after prior intimation to SHO of the respective area.
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