On Sunday, 15th March, 2020, Senator the Honourable Jennifer Baptiste Primus, Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development addressed the nation to announce workplace guidelines regarding the initial national closure of schools for one week starting Saturday, 14th March, 2020, in the wake of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in T&T.
During her address, Minister Primus issued the following guidelines for employers and employees in the Public Service, State Enterprise and Private Sector:
- At this time it is not advised that children be allowed onto work places/facilities, inclusive of company vehicles or compounds, as they too need to be protected.
- All parents are encouraged to use their support systems in the first instance to take care of their children to allow them to report for duty.
- Where there are both parents in a family, one parent is encouraged to stay at home with the children whilst the other reports for duty.
- Where alternative work arrangements cannot be made the employee is to be allowed to stay at home with his/her children without being penalized by either disciplinary action or by non-payment of salary.
- Where discussions between the recognized majority unions/employees and employers have failed to resolve the issue either the employer or recognized majority unions/employees can contact the Conciliation, Advisory and Advocacy Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 299-0300 ext. 2043 or 2124.
- Employees are advised that if you are not sick do not stay at home.
For the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic, employers are required to implement Pandemic Leave provisions within their organizations in a compassionate manner which ensures business continuity whilst securing the national interest.
In light of the pandemic facing Trinidad and Tobago, officers who will be eligible for Pandemic Leave within the Public Service are as follows:
- Public Officers – Permanent, temporary, monthly-paid and daily-rated
- Fixed Term Contract Employees
- Short Term Contract Employees
- On the Job Trainees (OJTs)
- Office Holders within the purview of the Salaries Review Commission (SRC) (whose Office falls in the Public Service such as Top Managers, Judiciary and Legal Services)
Employers are encouraged to develop appropriate arrangements to ensure business continuity during this pandemic.