People will no longer be able to take it upon themselves to go into quarantine but will have to get confirmation from the public health authority, principal secretary for employment Jules Baker has said

This follows the Cabinet of Ministers’ approval this week for the annual leave regulations to be amended in order to allow employers to oblige their employees to take leave in cases where they have been declared as close contacts of a Covid-19 positive person.

Meanwhile, the special leave provision would remain in place for isolation purposes only, where the employee has tested positive for Covid-19.

Accompanied by the director general for labour relation, Steve Monnaie, PS Baker updated the press on the decision yesterday morning at the employment department’s head office at Independence House.

PS Baker noted that it was after much consultation between the Cabinet and the Ministry of Employment that the decision was taken to amend the annual leave regulations so that employees who come into close contact and need to go in quarantine can do so using their annual leave days.

PS Baker explained that people will no longer be able to take it upon themselves to go into quarantine but will have to get confirmation from the public health authority. They will then have to take a PCR test five days after and if it comes back negative they will resume work where they will be refunded the five days they spent at home.

But if the test comes back Covid-19 positive then the infected person will be quarantined under special leave where his or her annual leave days will not be used.

PS Baker claimed that too many employees are unfortunately taking advantage of the Covid-19 situation and not coming to work on the pretense that they have had close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

“This is resulting in productivity going down and other employees taking up more work to cover for those who are not working. The situation got so bad that we had to inform the government of these concerns so that we could get a policy on how to address the situation,” PS Baker said.

Moreover, he pointed out that this situation will not be resolved any time soon and will certainly not have a winner and a loser. He further added that since Covid-19 hit the country in March last year, the government has always put the protection of all employees at the forefront.

He noted that the amendment will be brought to the representatives of the various workers’ unions in the coming weeks to be discussed at length and all their related propositions and recommendations would be analysed and considered.

Since the announcement, many union representatives have rejected the amendment saying it is unfair for the employment ministry to make employees use their annual leave when they go into quarantine.

But PS Baker has assured the press that if an employee tests negative after five days then his or her leave will be refunded and if the test is positive the annual leave will not be used.

In regards to people who do not have any annual leave, they will not be paid for the days they do not report to work.

The amendment also makes provision for parents who need to stay at home with their child if they are infected or need to be in quarantine.

PS Baker said they will be covered by their employer and will not have to use their leave.

In concluding, PS Baker stressed that this amendment will only be applicable during the Covid-19 emergency period and as the situation cools down it will be repealed.


Christophe Zialor