Parliament passes amendments entitling quarantined employees to leaves

Photo shows Velaanaage. The building where several government offices are located. (Sun File Photo)

The Parliament has passed amendments to the Public Health Emergency Act so that individuals placed in quarantine due to COVID-19 are entitled to a special holiday during the quarantine period. 

57 parliamentarians voted in favor of the amendment.

The amendment states that employees placed in quarantine after returning to the Maldives during a public health emergency or in any other instance, are entitled to a special paid holiday without the need for presenting a medical certificate.

Employees instructed to stay at home are also entitled to a special holiday. The employers are to provide these leaves if and when the employee presents a signed document by the Director-General of Public Health or an assigned official.

Measures taken that affect the transport and movement of people must that results in employees obstructed from working must also be provided with special leave. Employees testing positive for the virus must be provided with a special leave after the employee presents a document signed by the Director-General of Public Health. 

Employees that are taking care of a positive individual who they are a guardian to, must also be provided with a leave, according to the amendment.

The bill also states instances when employees cannot be made redundant. This is extended to the reduction of wages, delay of contract, or unpaid leaves. 

However, if the business is negatively impacted due to COVID-19 and its economic impact, employers are permitted to take such action. A regulation on evaluating the impact of the virus on the business is to be formulated within 14 days. 

Employees dismissed from the post of employment due to COVID-19 can also to take their cases to the Employment Tribunal within 90 days of the action or before the end of the announced public health emergency.