Karnataka

Lack of clarity on quarantine leave continues

A file photo of a quarantine facility. The State government has said that employers may not consider the absence as unauthorised when COVID-19 patients stay out of work during their quarantine period.  

The lack of clarity over quarantine leave for workers in the State continues despite a gazette notification by the Karnataka government on special leave recently.

Instead of providing stricter guidelines, the gazette rather makes an appeal to employers, and one of the suggestions is transferring leave from the account of another employee, who has surplus, if the COVID-19 patient does not have adequate leave in his account.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in many workers losing out on their pay as there was no official clarity to the employers, the State government on November 6 published a special gazette on quarantine leave following a direction from the High Court of Karnataka, which is hearing a writ petition on the issue currently.

The special gazette is an “appeal” to private and public sector employers.

Listing out six suggestions, while appealing to the employers to consider them, the State government has said that employers may not consider absence as unauthorised when COVID-19 patients stay out of work during quarantine period, and the employers should allow such workers to utilise the leave available in their account.

Leave transfer

If a worker does not have any leave, the gazette suggests that leave may be transferred from the account of other workers, who have surplus.

Incidentally, those workers who are covered under the ESI are eligible for quarantine leave, and in the same establishment if a worker is outside ESI, he is not eligible for quarantine leave.

A large number of workers in factories are also outside the ambit of ESI for whom quarantine leave has become an issue.

Paid leave

Further, the government has suggested to the employers to consider providing paid leave of absence during the quarantine period for those workers who do not have any leave in their account, by adjusting it with the future leave that the employee might earn in the company.

“In case if the employers are not willing or unable to approve the leave and workers do not have adequate leave, the employers and the workers can hold discussions to sort out the issue of special leave for the quarantine period,” the special gazette said.

‘Without basis’

AITUC Bengaluru secretary M. Satyanand said: “The order for quarantine leave should be under the Disaster Management Act as per the court direction. The order to advance leave from the next year to transfer surplus leave from other employees is ridiculous and without basis in law.”

Further, he said such an order would create a strong disincentive for workers to hide their symptoms. “ This will increase the spread of infection in factories and workplaces.”

However, B.C. Prabhakar, president of Karnataka Employers’ Association, said that the employers were faced with fake leave application by workers claiming to be in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient.

“Production in factories is recovering now and workers are required. This will help prevent those making false claims. In genuine cases, managements are going out of the way. If it is made compulsory, there is a threat of workers misusing the provisions,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 11:24:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/lack-of-clarity-on-quarantine-leave-continues/article33163141.ece

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