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‘Working parents forced to take leave on account of COVID-19 will not lose out’ | 24 March 2020

‘Working parents forced to take leave on account of COVID-19 will not lose out’

PS Baker (Photo: Louis Toussaint)

“Leave taken from March 16 - 31, 2020 by working parents to stay with their children will not be deducted from their legal entitlement,” the principal secretary for employment Jules Baker has said.

Mr Baker said this yesterday while elaborating to the press on two decisions taken by the government regarding COVID-19. Firstly, the closure of public and private schools that has impacted severely on the number of working parents and secondly the three-month guaranteed salaries for all Seychellois and expat workers.

PS Baker explained that since the closure of schools, due to an emergency health situation caused by COVID-19, the working parents have been facing some unexpected situations.

“They necessarily had to go on leave to take care of their children. There was an outcry from employers over losing their staff who took time off. This decision was taken under the Public Health Emergency Regulation. In order to protect the working parents, the government has decided that leave taken as of March 16, 2020 to March 31, 2020 are not deducted from the workers’ legal entitlement. This decision applies to all parents who have children under 15 years of age and have been affected by the closure of schools, child care etc,” highlighted PS Baker.

“The parents are expected to stay home with their children and the working parent should make a choice as to who will stay home to take care of the children. All parents should notify their employers before just staying home. Employees cannot just decide that they will not come to work and all organisations are asked to make arrangements to communicate properly with their staff. No employer has the right to refuse leave to a parent whose child is below 15!”

Regarding the payment of daycares and other services related to child care, the Ministry of Finance will come forward with measures.

PS Baker also noted that they are working with the Attorney General’s Office for help in drafting the appropriate regulations in terms of leave.

Following the announcement made by President Danny Faure on March 20 regarding guaranteeing three months’ salaries for both local and expatriate staff in the private sector, PS Baker noted that as from April 1, no leave will be deducted from any employees’ entitlement until further notice. All employees in all businesses will be assisted depending on the criteria set by the Ministry of Finance. PS Baker also noted that “the government will not approve any redundancy request during that period, unless the situation becomes worse and then we will relook at the facts”.

PS Baker reassured all employees that any person who cannot go to work because of COVID-19, their annual leave will not be affected. Decisions will be taken as the situation changes in the country and the Ministry of Employment is working closely with the private sector.

PS Baker also noted that many cases are being registered by the ministry regarding some steps taken by the employers. “Leave is mutually agreed and no employers can force their staff to take unpaid leave or forced leave. We strongly urge the employers to consult the Ministry of Employment as this situation is being caused by COVID-19 and we will assess each situation. We also ask the employers not to send the expat employees home as they are also part of our economy. The same principles and laws apply to the expat workers,” stressed PS Baker.

“The decisions are being made following strict guidance from the Ministry of Health and as we go along, we will decide on our next moves,” concluded PS Baker.

Vidya Gappy

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