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The Employment (Coronavirus Special Leave) (Temporary Measures) Regulations, 2020 | 31 March 2020

In the face of challenges being encountered by the world of work with the situation of the coronavirus pandemic, the Minister for Employment, Immigration and Civil Status, Myriam Telemaque, yesterday signed a law introducing a new category of leave for workers working in both the public and private sector. The Employment (Coronavirus Special Leave) (Temporary Measures) Regulations, 2020, that is already in force, allows workers to take special leave of absence from work in certain specific situations, such as to take care of their social responsibilities.

Working parents with children from the age of three and a half months to 14 years old who were in a relevant institution immediately before March 16 such as day care and the institution has closed temporarily, workers who are required to go into isolation or have contracted the virus and workers who works for businesses that have temporarily stopped operations fully or partially and their employers do not require their presence at work are entitled to take the special leave. This is applicable only as from March 16, 2020 until the Minister indicates an end date, by way of a notice published in the gazette. The leave is an entitlement on its own, which means that the employer cannot deduct the leave from a worker’s annual leave even though the worker has been on leave in connection with COVID-19 prior to the enactment of this new law.

The law applies to workers who are on a continuous contract or fixed-term or is working part-time. It also applies to non-Seychellois workers with a valid contract of employment and GOP who are in Seychelles on coming into force of this law.

The law does not apply to workers who are exempt from the application of the Employment Act 1995 and non-Seychellois workers with a valid contract of employment and GOP but who are outside Seychelles.

For the first category of workers, that is parents with children from the age of 3½ months to 14 years, those who qualify should have direct responsibility of the child and lives in the same household, for example the mother, father, step-mother or step-father. Only one parent can apply for the leave at a time for one or more children within the household. It is a punishable offence for a parent to make false declaration when applying for the special leave. If a worker falling within this category is denied the special leave by the employer, the worker has the right of appeal to the Minister.

Home caregivers and workers employed in the essential service such as a hospital or medical services, fire and rescue services, postal services, banking and financial services are not qualified to apply for leave in this category unless the employer allows the worker to take the special leave or their presence at work is not required.

For the second category of workers, that is those who are required by the health authorities to go into isolation or have contracted the virus, they are automatically entitled to the special leave but this has to be confirmed by the health authorities in writing to the employer at the time of release of the worker from isolation.

For the third category, the special leave is only applicable if the employer decides to stop operation of the business temporarily either fully or in part. It is the employer who will decide whether with the exigencies of its operation some workers may remain at home on special leave. In this particular situation, the employer may call back the worker at any time to resume duty and the worker cannot refuse. With this category, the same as the first category, the effective date of the special leave is on March 16 until the Minister indicates the end date in the gazette, which means that the worker is considered to have been on special leave from March 16, or any date thereafter thus no deduction from the annual leave can be done.

The Ministry has made available an application form for workers to complete when applying for the special leave, particularly workers falling in the first category applying for school or institutions closure. Employers are encouraged to use the form so that they can gather as much information as possible from the worker in case the necessity for disciplinary measures arise in the future. The form together with the Employment (Coronavirus Special Leave) (Temporary Measures) Regulations, 2020 can be downloaded from the Ministry’s website :www.employment.gov.sc. Members of the public are advised to visit our website or contact us on telephone No. 4297212/4297200 or email us on : contact@employment.gov.sc for any queries.

 

Contributed by the Ministry of Employment, Immigration and Civil Status

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