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Employers must prove COVID-19 effects if sacking workers

May 29, 2020 6:55 am
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. [File Photo]

An amendment to the Employment Relations Act passed in Parliament last night, requires employers to prove that they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terminating employees.

The amendment seeks to provide a more realistic work environment which enables the sustainability of jobs and businesses, and to clarify the meaning of “an act of God” during the COVID-19 period.

The changes allow employers to let go of workers if they cannot provide work or the contract of service is frustrated or its performance is prevented by an act of God.

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In the amendment an act of God includes a pandemic as declared by the World Health Organisation.

However, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says in using this provision, employers have a high burden of proof.

“The burden of proof is on the employer to prove that it was an act of God; in this case the pandemic. They can’t for example, if business is going well, fire fifty workers. He or she has to prove that it is because of the pandemic if they are going to use the pandemic argument. That’s the safeguard.”

The amendment has also reduced Family Care and Paternity Leave from five days to two days during the COVID-19 period.

 

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