19.01.2021

Measures against COVID-19 at the Workplace

In a new series of policy briefs, our YLFees discuss current political challenges and recommendations

In March 2020, President Ashraf Ghani developed a response plan for the health sector and established a High-Level Emergency Coordination Committee (HLECC) to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The HLECC has several technical working groups addressing different aspects of the public health response, including surveillance and early detection; coordination and resource mobilization; health care provision; health promotion and risk communication; and infection prevention and protection. It is also working to establish sub-national coordination structures, particularly in Herat province, which has the highest number of confirmed cases to date. The government allocated Afs 1.9 billion to the budget for emergency health needs, such as testing labs (including at border crossings), setting up special wards to boost hospitalization and care capacity, and procuring critical medical supplies, including personal protection equipment. The pandemic caused many deaths and economic causalities for Afghanistan. The state must implement some measures to ensure that everyone is safe and fighting against Covid 19. Keeping social distance between employees during work hours is one of the most important steps to fight against Covid 19. Hence, this policy will address these steps and give recommendations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of the world. The effectiveness of government measures to contain the pandemic and build back better depends upon public institutions' capacity and their leadership to provide transparent, effective, and accountable actions in compliance with the rule of law. The Covid 19 pandemic requires the government employees to take some steps and actions to be safe, not let the pandemic spread, and make sure that everyone is safe within public institutions.

Purpose:

This policy aims to clarify and list the requirements that employees must observe. It also explains regulations concerning the duration of the working hours, breaks, and leaves. It aims to avoid the spread of Covid 19 within both public and private institutions in the country.

Approach:

This research method is qualitative. It has been completed by gathering some policies from other countries that implemented specific guidelines and recommendations based on medical studies during this pandemic.

The government of Afghanistan is actively implementing strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect public health, guarantee human rights, and maintain the rule of law while, among other things, maintaining access to vital public services, including the justice system. The pandemic requires people to not spend more time outside of the home, especially in crowded areas. If doing so, each employee must have masks and observe 2-3 meters of social distance. To not stop the public and private institutions' track, this policy requires the employees to come to work while observing the safest medical requirements. The safest practice for employees is to go to work every other day and work for 7 hours. The institutions should propound and prepare schedules for their staff so that everyone knows which days he/she shall come to work. Employees who are more than 50 years old and pregnant female staff are not required to attend work physically. Instead, they should work from home/online.

There's only one hour for breaks per day during work so employees should bring meals from home or anywhere they prefer. The institutions' kitchens are closed to avoid spreading the virus inside the office and the employees. No lunches will be served at the institutions, but the government will offer compensation.  

The employees who have any symptoms of Covid 19, whether it's severe or weak, shall fill a leave form and rest at home, and take medicine. They will also register themselves for the Covid 19 test. If the test is positive, then he/she should stay home for 15 days and take another Covid 19 test. None of the employees who have the symptoms can return to work unless he/she shows a negative Covid 19 test form from an accredited test centre.

The virus can easily get spread through physical contact like shaking hands, hugging, or kissing during work. The employees shall not do such actions. The head of each department shall install clear and colourful guiding notices and pictures on the notice board so that everyone does not forget the guidelines.

Conclusion:

Keeping to social distancing and medical recommendations are the best individual practice against Covid 19. Everyone must follow and observe the steps and actions listed above very carefully to be safe. If they are not observed, the department head shall give recommendations and warnings to avoid spreading the virus. 

Edris Tawakol is a member of the 2020/21 Young Leaders Forum.

This article has also been published in Dari by Afghanistan Today. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

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