An employer should Identify and mitigate risks to workers and other persons connected to the workplace arising from exposure to COVID-19 in Organizing work to reduce person-to-person contact, ensuring physical distance at the workplace
Promote workplace hygiene and apply the principles of social distancing in the workplace; Maintain good environmental hygiene and good indoor ventilation; or implementing remote work arrangements; Provide adequate facilities (e.g., soap, hand sanitiser, signage, and reminders) and encourage workers to practice workplace hygiene (e.g. frequent hand hygiene, avoid touching eyes/nose/mouth).
Employers can also manage and control the risk of COVID-19 at the workplace by closely monitoring official guidance and advice, particularly updates from the Ministry of Health.
It is commendable for a company to want to retain staff amidst the pandemic and the effects thereof. The law requires that the company have shown measures to minimise or avoid retrenchment and this may be one of those measures if it has been consented to by staff. Section 15 (4) of the Employment Labour relations Act states that:
Where any matter stipulated in subsection (1) changes, the employer shall, in consultation with the employee, revise the written particulars to reflect the change and notify the employee of the change in writing.
Therefore the staff have to consent to the reduction of salaries.
As above stated, any change to the contract has to be bilaterally agreed. Therefore should the employee not consent to this measure then the employer will be compelled to being the retrenchment procedures for those employees. However, the employer has to pay them their full salaries until the last day worked. Remember, an employer cannot unilaterally reduce the employees’ salaries if they have refused to consent to the deduction.
There is no change in the law where employer obligations are concerned and therefore the employer is still required to follow all the stipulations in the Act and its regulations.
Together with the guidelines about working from home found in www.ate.or.tz the employer should ensure that the employees are still following the code of conduct and HR Manual. The employer should also be aware that the employees are still covered by the Workers Compensation Act in case they get into an accident or injury in the course of employment.
Employers during this time may want to reduce the length of the contract of employment from permanent to fixed term due to uncertainties ahead. However, as above stipulated, this has to be done in consensus with the employee and there to be an agreement in writing that changes these terms. More so, it should be remembered that an employment contract of a fixed term should not be less than 12 months in duration.