Employers blame employees for rising workplace COVID-19 cases

GEA CEO, Alex Frimpong

The Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) association has said that employers cannot be blamed for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases at the workplace; because employees, who are expected to take up more responsibility, be mindful of the disease and follow the COVID-19 safety protocols strictly, are reneging on their part of this duty.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Employers’ Association, Alex Frimpong, in an interview with the B&FT said: “Management must provide the facilities and all the things employees need to protect themselves, and that is being done – but employees also have the obligation to ensure that they comply. All the things that we have to do have been done.

“After we close, nobody knows where anybody goes. This makes it difficult to tell where, when and how that happened. We all have a collective responsibility. Employees live in their own homes, they live in different communities; what they do after work, we don’t know. Unless the workplace has been infected already, but beyond that it is very difficult to hold the employer responsible,” he said.

So far, the Supreme Court, Ministry of Finance, Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST), Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) are among the many institutions that have asked some of their staff to work from home as the institutions put in measures to address the spread of COVID-19 among workers.

It is also believed that the fear of stigmatisation has pushed some businesses to be silent about measures they are taking to prevent spread of the virus in their organisations.

The GEA believes that organisations can do their best – but the onus lies on employees to be more careful outside the workplace and educate the public about dangers of the virus.

“More education is needed at this point. Government has done well and continues to educate the public and update them on what is happening and also ways to protect oneself. It is important that workers cooperate with their organisations in the fight against the pandemic; and employees must serve as education agents when they move out of the organisation. The creeping laxity toward this disease must be stopped.

“Employees must talk about the harmful effect of the virus and the consequences for employment, corporate reputation, communities and loss of income for many people. If the country’s citizens are not healthy, its economy will also not be healthy,” Mr. Frimpong said.

Last week, during the Information Ministry’s regular press update on COVID-19, Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, stated that the issue of workplace outbreaks could be employees getting infected in their communities of abode and taking it to the workplace or vice versa.

“This is happening because certain etiquettes are not being followed. It has the tendency to create some apathy, enhance the spread and also reduce productivity. We are entreating all employers to work toward reducing congestion at the workplace.

“This is the first thing that will help to practice social distancing. We are also recommending that when staff develop symptoms, the person should be encouraged not to come to work but rather seek medical attention. Managers should continue to engage their staff on the safety precautions and ensure that things they need for handwashing, social distancing and sanitising are provided.”

Dr. Kuma-Aboagye added that things should be done in a way such that there is very little contact as much as possible.

“Eating together and all other similar things should not be encouraged. Most importantly, should there be any suspected or positive case recorded, contact the Ghana Health Service to assist with the risk analysis and learn what needs to be done. We will help with whoever needs to go into self-isolation, and do contact tracing as well. This will lead us into the communities in order to test and isolate. These will help us in containing the disease.”

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