Saturday, 11 April 2020


THE Government has warned employers against imposing unpaid leave, retrenchments and unfairly terminating workers’ contracts during the 21-day national lockdown meant to stem the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

In addition, the Government has said workers who will contract Covid-19 while at work will get compensation under the Accident Preventions Workers Compensation Scheme administered by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa).

In a statement on Friday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said all employers should uphold fair labour standards as enshrined in Section 65 of the Zimbabwe Constitution and as provided in Section 2A of the Labour Act (Chapter28:01) during the lockdown period.

“All employers are therefore urged to refrain from imposing unpaid leave measures, retrenchments and unfair terminations on workers during the lockdown period. Use of unpaid leave during the lockdown period should only be considered through mutual agreements.

Accordingly, social dialogue structures at enterprise level and National Employment Councils (NECs) should be utilised for this purpose,” he said.

However, a number of companies especially players in the hospitality and tourism industry are alleged to have terminated and imposed unpaid leave days to their employees. In a statement, the country’s national airline, Air Zimbabwe said due to lack of revenue stream as a result of its inactivity it would struggle to honour its salary obligations to all its employees.

“The airline operations have ground to a halt as most of the passenger travel destinations are on lockdown with travel restrictions, implying nil revenue inflows. While other revenue initiatives are being pursued, staff remuneration remains one of the largest cost drivers within the airline and without revenue inflows and external interventions, it will be a challenge to continue funding the salaries,” read the statement.

Air Zimbabwe further stated that it would place most of its workers on indefinite leave with effect from 23 April.
“Our staff complement shall be reduced and a skeletal team identified by the heads of departments will be in place to ensure ad hoc operations, airworthiness compliance, safety, security of aircraft and associated equipment within the airline. Therefore, some of us will be placed on indefinite unpaid leave effective 23 April 2020 until operations normalise. However, April 2020 salaries will be paid to all staff members in full,” said the airline.

Prof Mavima also noted that Covid-19 was also classified as a compensable disease under Nssa’s Accident Prevention Workers’ Compensation Scheme.

“Accordingly, Covid-19 is a compensable disease for healthcare workers and others who may contract the disease at the workplace. Nssa has also developed guidelines for compensation of work related Covid-19 infections. Similar arrangements are provided for in the compensation for work-related diseases and injuries for workers in the civil service,” he said.

Prof Mavima further indicated that: “A considerable resource envelope has been set aside as part of social protection measures to assist vulnerable members of the society during the lockdown period and is being rolled out.”

The rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has serious implications for employers, workers and workspaces where there is frequent human contact Prof Mavima said.

He said whatever mitigatory measures the Government takes to curb the spread of the disease, it should be accompanied by strategic decisions and actions that maintain the long-term stability of businesses while cushioning employees from the pandemic’s adverse effects on livelihoods.
The ministry has also proposed workplace guidelines to give proper guidance to workers and employers regarding Covid-19 issues. Sunday News


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