Measures to protect health and mitigate labor risks at resumption of activities


Measures to protect health and mitigate labor risks at resumption of activities

Resumption phase requires planning, strategy, attention to labor and health measures

By Leonardo Bezerra

In addition to the economic effects, coronavirus pandemic also involved companies in a tangle of labor issues. In many cases, activities migrated to the teleworking regime, contracts were suspended, salaries and hours were reduced, among other actions provided for by the rules issued during the public calamity situation.

Now, while states and municipalities are planning a gradual resumption of activities, entrepreneurs are adapting to the decrees that determine the rules for reopening business. How to conduct this process in a way that mitigates the involved risks?

Planning for resumption of activities

The first orientation concerns planning. Companies need to develop a return plan that considers the specific legislation issued on the subject. Observing these measures will contribute to guiding the actions.

On June 19, 20, measures to be observed aiming at the prevention, control and minimization of the transmission risks of COVID-19 in the work environments were established through the Joint Ordinance 20, issued and published between the Ministry of Economy and the Special Secretariat of Welfare and Labor, . The referred ordinance provides in detail some of the measures that employers and employees should observe upon their return.

We recommend that the return of activities be planned with the help of a company specialized in occupational health and safety, which will be able to determine the particularities of each activity and establish personalized guidelines in accordance with the provisions establlished for each location.

The advice of a labor and social security consultancy also plays a fundamental role in the analysis of the type of work to be adopted, including the possible maintenance of part of the workforce still in a home office regime, the suspension of the measures adopted under Provisional Measure 936 and the financial impacts and risks associated with such decisions.

Covid-19 as an occupational disease

After a decision by the Federal Supreme Court, Covid-19 may be considered an occupational disease. This opinion annulled parts of the government's provisional measure that prevented this characterization.

Since 2010, when the Social Security Epidemiological Technical Nexus was established, Social Security has reversed the burden of proof, and the employer must prove that there is no causal link between illness and work. Thus, in addition to the social issue of preserving the health of employees, we also recommend that all measures taken can be proven to ward causation.

The characterization of leaves related to Covid-19 as an occupational disease may represent great losses to companies, both in relation to the increase in the rate of the Accident Prevention Factor (FAP) and to the employment stability and FGTS deposits when the leave exceeds fifteen days.

In this way, when the employer's responsibility for contamination by the virus is confirmed, the worker will be entitled to the social security benefit, will enjoy a stability for one year after his return, the maintenance of FGTS deposits during the leave period is still guaranteed. In addition, an eventual indemnity in case of death or permanent damage may be claimed, if the causal link is proven.

Protection to workers’ health in the resumption

Establishments should not only adopt sanitary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 indoors, but also go further, guiding employees on prevention both inside and outside the facilities, including good practices to adopt in transportation and at home.

Although the resumption of activities is being gradually authorized, there are still imposition of distance, partial resumption of activities, among others. This new moment also significantly changes the configuration of workplaces in relation to the model prior to the pandemic.

It is important that employers comply with all the determinations of public agencies and health agents, avoiding direct responsibility for a leave due to Covid-19.

The employer must adopt actions that reflect the attention and care for the employees’ health, including protective measures in line with the recommendations of the WHO and the Ministry of Health.

  • Find here the document with WHO recommendations.

  • Besides these general recommendations, the employer must fully comply with the standards in state and municipal levels, which may contain particularities.

    See also:

    It is noteworthy that the company is responsible for constantly instructing employees, in an ostensible and documented manner, on the precautions to be adopted for the prevention of diseases and accidents at work.

    Highlights with the resumption of activities

    During the public calamity, several changes were promoted to preserve health and jobs. Exceptionally, those allowed were anticipation of vacations and holidays, collective vacations, reduction of the Employer's Social Security Contribution for Other Entities, suspension of the employment relationship agreements, reduction of the workday, etc.

    With the resumption, employers must pay attention to the restoration of these measures. There are deadlines for communication to employees, for example , for the transition between the teleworking and the face-to-face work, deadlines for communication of restoring journey and salary, and these, if not observed, can pose complications to the employer.

    Below, we highlight some situations and communication deadlines:

      Change of telework to the face-to-face - Employees must be notified at least 48 hours in advance, notification in written or electronic form being allowed;

      Restoration of workday and salary - Within two calendar days from the employer's communication date informing the employee of the decision to bring forward the end of the agreed reduction period;

      Restoration of the suspended contract - Within two calendar days from the employer's communication date informing the employee of the decision to bring forward the end of the agreed suspension period;

      Periodic training related to occupational health and safety programs - Training must be made within ninety days, counting from the end of the public calamity state;

      Occupational medical examinations (hiring and periodicals) - The examinations must be made within sixty days, counting from the end of the public calamity state.

    The employer that adopted the revocation of the suspension or reduction of working hours, as provided for in Provisional Measure 936, must observe the administrative procedures involving the resumption. And, as the possibility of extending the effects of this Provisional Measure for four months has been raised, the matter must also be followed up by companies that still wish to benefit from the measure.

    The moment requires planning and strategy. The employer should provide a budget analysis on the continuation of part of the worker in working from home, considering the possible scenarios, phases of recovery and viability financial return.

    Even if companies plan to resume full face-to-face activities, it is necessary to check impediments imposed by decrees stipulating the maximum percentage of occupancy of offices and other establishments. It is also recommended to maintain risk groups working from home and adopt the appropriate measures to preserve the health of employees.

    Resumption of activity with specialized guidance

    Domingues e Pinho Contadores offers specialized consultancy with the objective of guaranteeing a safe resumption in relation to labor aspects, so that all communications and procedures for the re-establishment of contracts are timely observed, minimizing the risks of an action that generates immediate and future damages.

    How DPC may help your company?

    Domingues e Pinho Contadores has specialized team ready to assist your company.
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