Paid sick leave increased in Karnataka on account of COVID-19

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak in India, the Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka has issued a notification on March 05, 2020, which directs employers to provide for an increase in the number of paid sick leaves available to employees.

Who does this notification apply to?

It applies to any ‘employer’ as defined under the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (“ESI Act”) and the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961 (“KSCE Act”).

Section 2(17) of the ESI Act defines ‘Principal Employer’ as follows:

(i) ‘…. in a factory, the owner or occupier of the factory and includes the managing agent of such owner or occupier, the legal representative of a deceased owner or occupier, and where a person has been named as the manager of the factory under the Factories Act, 1948, the person so named.’
(ii) ‘in any establishment under the control of any department of any Government in India, the authority appointed by such Government in this behalf or where no authority is so appointed, the head of the department.’
(iii) ‘in any other establishment, any person responsible for the supervision and control of the establishment.’

Section 2(h) of the KSCE Act defines an ‘Employer’ as:

‘… a person having charge of or owning or having ultimate control over the affairs of an establishment and includes members of the family of an employer, a manager, agent or other person acting in the general management or control of an establishment.’

Obligations of an Employee:

Infection Evaluation & Treatment: If an employee who is covered under the ESI Act is suffering from the coronavirus infection/shows symptoms of such infection, such employee should immediately visit the nearest ESI hospital or clinic for testing and treatment.

Submission of Medical Certificate: If the employee is tested positive, such employee shall be required to obtain a certificate from the relevant medical officer stating that he/she is tested positive and submit a copy of the certificate to the employer.

 What does it mean for an ‘Employer’?

  •  Leave Entitlement: On submission of the medical certificate by the infected employee stating that he/she tested positive, employers are required to grant 28 (Twenty Eight) days of mandatory paid sick leave to the infected employees thereby amending the provisions regarding sick leave under the ESI Act and the KSCE Act.
  • Payment of Remuneration: Seek appropriate financial advice and make budgetary provisions to accommodate payment of compensation to the infected employees (for the duration of sick leave availed by the employee).
  • Work Allocation: Ascertain the number of employees who are infected and restructure allocation of work/projects amongst other employees.
  • Medical Insurance: Consult their insurance service providers and seek advice whether the group insurance policies procured by the employer covers the compensation that is payable by the employer to the infected employees.
  • Awareness: Sensitize the employees about the notification issued by the Karnataka Labour Department, and encourage employees to immediately report any form of symptoms to the concerned reporting manager/personnel. Do feel free to reach out to us if you would like to have a conversation on this update.

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