One of the key measures to the global coronavirus pandemic has been social distancing to contain community transmission of the COVID-19. Along with shutting down schools, closing stores and limiting restaurants to take-out service only, a major tactic for social distancing has been encouraging people to work from home. Many companies in Qatar have already urged their employees to work from home, as part of its efforts to limit the further spread of the coronavirus.
In that respect, on 19 March, Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon, more commonly known as “Mr.Q, your friendly neighborhood Qatari” carried out a poll on Twitter, asking people where they are working from!
A majority of respondents (53.7%) in the poll said they are working from the office, 35.9% of them said they are working from home and 6.7% of respondents said that they are having unpaid leave while 3.6% said they are on paid leave.
Usually, people who do most of their work on computers are suitable for working from home. Occupations such as corporate executives, IT managers, financial analysts, accountants, and writers – have access to telework. However, many employees could struggle to get hold of resources that required to work from home, for example, laptops, WIFI access, etc. In that case, if the company can afford they could offer workers a certain amount of stipend to purchase any necessary office supplies and ease the transition to remote work. Moreover, people working from home must be provided with basic security advice, employees should know exactly what’s expected from them such as securing company data, ensuring home Wi-Fi routers are sufficiently secured.
On the other hand, working from home is not a privilege that everyone can have. Some jobs, by their very nature, are impossible to perform at home than the standard worksite, for example, retail stores, restaurants’ workers, security, police officers or construction workers.
Some employees express their anger on social media stating that their companies haven't done anything to address their concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. So how to sort out this problem while some jobs are not suitable to work from home?
Employers and employees can find a solution to reducing the number of staff working in the office if it is logistically possible. Additionally, employers can support to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing a safe working environment and educating employees on the virus' risks and ways to prevent its transmission. For example, providing them hand sanitizers, masks and resetting the workplace so employees are not forced to sit too close to each other. To know more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace, click HERE.
The outbreak of the coronavirus is posing a serious challenge to many businesses in Qatar. As a result, some workers were requested to use annual leave to cover the period they are not able to work or due to the company offering reduced services. But can an employer request you to go on unpaid leave during this coronavirus crisis?
Recently, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs issued a health and employment guideline for workers in Qatar amid coronavirus crisis, where it was mentioned:
"It is important for all to collaborate through this period to minimize the damage for the benefit of both parties, taking into account the survival of the business and employment over the longer term. Therefore, employers and workers may mutually agree that workers take unpaid leave or use their annual leave if the business has been halted and the worker is not assigned any work. However, employers must continue to provide all other benefits, including accommodation and food."
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