The Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) has said that the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases pose the biggest threat to the economic recovery plan proposed by government to deal with adverse impacts of pandemic.
The association fears that if the situation continues in this trajectory, government will have no option than to order another lockdown for the country – a decision that would come with dire consequences, as the three-week partial lock down last year resulted in more than 770,000 workers having their wages reduced and more than 42,000 losing their jobs.
It is against this background that the GEA is cautioning all employers to, as a matter of urgency, revisit and pursue in a strict manner all the protocols outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and government in order to contain spread of the pandemic, especially at a time when the new variant has been recorded in the country.
“The pandemic’s effects place an obligation on all stakeholders (i.e., employers and workers) to comply strictly with the established protocols to prevent escalation of the pandemic, which would necessitate another lockdown and further job losses.
“All workers are also reminded to comply strictly with the COVID-19 protocols, even after work when they join their families back at home and in their communities,” a statement released by the GEA said.
It further cautions that attention must also be paid to all directives and updates from government and the Ministry of Health (MOH) regarding tevolution of the pandemic in the country: “Employers are therefore reminded to collaborate with their workers to conform with these basic actions and measures to protect the health and security of employees and their families, as well as sustain the enterprise”.
Measures to contain workplace spread
The GEA has outlined some measures which employers must strictly adhere to in order to keep a safe workplace.
These include promoting regular and thorough handwashing by employees, contractors and customers. Secondly, the GEA is advising that surfaces and tables (e.g., desk-tops, door-handles, tables and computers) need to be wiped with disinfectant at regular intervals each day; because contamination of surfaces touched by employees and customers is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads.
The Association also wants employers to reduce physical meetings and events, because there is a risk that people attending them might expose others to the COVID-19 virus; and also organise work to reduce person-to-person contact, ensuring physical distance at the workplace; or implement remote work arrangements.
Maintaining good workplace hygiene and good indoor ventilation while providing adequate facilities (e.g. soap, hand sanitiser, signage and reminders) and encouraging workers to practice workplace hygiene (e.g., frequent hand hygiene, avoid touching eyes/nose/mouth) has been advised.
The Human Resource directorates have been urged to direct workers to stay at home or work from home if they have “flu-like” symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, etc.), regardless of travel or contact history. Implementation of flexible work arrangements (e.g. teleworking) is being preached.
Employers have also been asked to increase physical space between workers at the workplace, and also implement flexible meetings and delivering services remotely (e.g., holding meetings via video conferencing or phone calls; or considering if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled).
Some workplace cultures must be stopped (e.g. handshaking, workers taking lunch at their own desk or outside, rather than in a cafeteria or break-rooms, and limit sharing food in the workplace).
The GEA noted that the pandemic, since its outbreak in the country, has had a telling effect on the activities of both employers and workers. Most employers have had to scale-down or shut down their businesses in response to the various measures implemented by government to contain the virus. This has in many ways affected their business and employment relations as well as work conditions at the workplace.