According to a statement by the Commissioner of Labour, employers who still have their business in operation to provide service to the population of Vanuatu, can rotate their employees in the following manner;
i) For employees who have accrued outstanding leave, the employer may put them on paid leave and allow those with less days to perform their duties.
The arrangement must be made known to the employees so there is a common understanding between the employer and the staff.
ii) Rotate employees on shift house but this will not affect their hours of work and their hourly rate.
Reduction of hours/ days of work: For instance, those staff who are working (while others on annual leave) their working days/hours can be reduced but not their hourly rate because they are on continuous employment.
This will apply to big business industries including hotels or resorts, guesthouses, supermarkets, versus small hotels, depending on size of the business.
For business houses with good financial status, if the business activities are low, they can release staff on paid leave (for those staff with outstanding accrued leave) with salaries on a fortnightly basis while they are at home without being terminated and this will be regarded as a continuous employment, meaning that this will not affect their severance package at the end of their service with the company. Again, this arrangement needs to be made known to the employees so there is a common understanding between the parties.
“We encourage employers to also think about the welfare of their employees during these challenging times as well all go through, and not try to abuse this situation of COVID-19 crisis and apply mass termination to all their employees,” the department said in its notice.
As mentioned above, termination should be regarded as the last recourse where no other option’s above can be considered and that the company is facing financial constraint.
Based on the above formal approaches, the Department of Labour said it will have record of the proper management of all employees during this COVID-19 situation from their employers as provided under section 73 and 74 of the Employment Act.
The Department of Labour is continuing to encourage all business houses to practice good hygiene at work places and ensure all employers provide safety equipment for the employees during this time.
Photo supplied Caption: Labour Commissioner Muriel Meltenoven