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Standard Operating Procedures introduced for social distancing in workplaces in India

Written by
Kochhar & Co., one of India's leading and largest full-service law firms.
Authors
Vijay Ravi
Vijay Ravi
Senior Partner - India
Kochhar & Co.
Sabrina Sawhney
Kochhar & Co.
India
21.04.20
3
As a number of businesses in India prepare for reopening from 20 April 2020, Standard Operating Procedures providing instructions on how to work safely have been published. 

The Government of India has ordered that the nationwide lockdown must continue until 3 May 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19. While certain establishments and industrial units are permitted to operate during the lockdown, it is expected that State Governments may allow additional establishments to operate after 20 April 2020 subject to certain restrictions.

Commercial establishments

All shops, commercial establishments, workshops and offices, excluding establishments engaged in providing essential are required to be shut down.

Establishment providing the following have been specified as essential services:

  • food, groceries, fruits & vegetables, meat & fish, animal fodder;
  • banking or insurance services and ATMs;
  • telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services, IT and IT enabled services only (for essential services);
  • delivery of essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment;
  • healthcare: hospitals, medical centres, medical stores;
  • electricity, petroleum, oil, energy;
  • print and electronic media;
  • cold storage and warehousing services;
  • capital and debt market services as notified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India;
  • courier services; and
  • private security services.

 

All other establishments are required to continue to have their employees work from home.

Industrial establishments

All industrial establishments must be closed, except for units manufacturing essential commodities, pharmaceuticals or production units that require continuous process, (these units must obtain permission to operate from the state government).

The following industrial establishments may be permitted to operate from 20 April 2020:

  • industries operating in rural areas;
  • manufacturing units in Special Economic Zones and Export Oriented Units, industrial estates and industrial townships, provided that the employer makes arrangements for all workers to stay within the premises in line with the Standard Operating Protocol;
  • units involve with the manufacturing of IT hardware;
  • units manufacturing packaging material;
  • food processing units in rural areas;
  • coal production, mines and mineral production, their transportation, and all activities incidental to mining operations;
  • jute industries with staggered shifts; and
  • oil and gas exploration/refinery.

 

Construction Activities

The below-mentioned construction activities would be permitted from April 20, 2020:

(i)         Construction of roads, irrigation projects; buildings for industrial projects; in rural areas and all projects in industrial estates;

(ii)        Construction of renewable energy projects; and

(iii)       Construction of projects where all workers are available on-site and no outside labour is required.

Standard Operating Procedure

In view of the above, a Standard Operating Procedure has been established to ensure the safety of the employees and their families against Covid-19. The measures to be adopted by an employer permitted to continue functioning during the lockdown are as follows:

1. All areas of the workplace including the entrance gate of the building, cafeteria, lifts, washroom, walls and other surfaces must be disinfected completely every day.

2. Employers must organise transportation for all employees which does not rely on public transport and ensure that each vehicle is only filled to 30%-40% of passenger capacity.

3. All vehicles and machinery entering the building or workplace should be disinfected.

4. Mandatory temperature scanning (with a contactless thermal thermometer) of every individual entering and exiting the work place.

5. Employers must provide medical insurance for all employees.

6. Employers must provide an adequate supply of hand wash and sanitiser, preferably with a touch free mechanism at all entry points and common areas in the workplace.

7. Workplaces must have a gap of one hour between each shift and stagger the lunch breaks for the staff to ensure social distancing.

8. Meetings or gatherings of more than ten people are discouraged and there should be at least a 6 feet distance between each employee while seated.

9. No more than two or four passengers (depending upon the surface area of the elevator) are permitted in a lift at one time and use of the stairs should be encouraged.

10. There should be a strict ban on tobacco products and spitting should be prohibited.

11. All non-essential visitors should be strictly banned from the premises.

12. A list of all hospitals/clinics authorised to treat Covid-19 patients should be prepared and be readily available at the workplace.

13. All employees above the age of 65 and parents with children below the age of five should be encouraged to work from home.

14. Employers should introduce intensive training and communication on good hygiene practices, especially in manufacturing establishments.