MHA allays Misplaced Apprehensions of Industry Associations regarding Legal liability on Company CEOs, if employees found COVID-19 positive

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on 15.04.2020, had issued an order to exempt certain activities under the consolidated revised guidelines to fight COVID-19, in certain areas not included in hotspots/containment zones.

Along with these guidelines, National Directives for COVID-19 Management and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for social distancing and hygiene measures to be followed by offices, workplaces, factories and other establishments have also been specified. The workplaces and industrial and commercial establishments are required to follow these guidelines, as well as standard health protocols as notified by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Some apprehensions, based on wrong interpretation of the guidelines, have been raised in the media and by some companies having manufacturing facilities. Some of these are as under:

States may take legal action, including imprisonment of CEO, in case a COVID-19 positive employee is found in the factory.
In Such a situation, the premises Of the factory would be sealed for 3 months.
In case of non-compliance of precautionary measures, the factory may be closed down for 2 days and may be allowed to restart after full compliance.

It is clarified that there is no such clause in the consolidated revised guidelines and therefore there is no basis for such misplaced apprehensions.

It is further clarified that the activities allowed under the consolidated revised guidelines dated 15.04.2020 have subsumed all the earlier activities that were permitted under the earlier guidelines issued on 24.03. 2020 (including those permitted under the addendums), in addition to certain new activities that have also been permitted. Hence, the consolidated revised guidelines do not curtail the exemptions already provided earlier, unless the exempted activity falls within a containment zone.

Therefore, no separate/ fresh permissions are required from authorities for industries already permitted to operate prior to 15.04.2020, in areas falling outside containment zones. It is emphasized that subject to compliance with the SOP on social distancing, no fresh license or statutory approval is required for resumption of permitted activities during the lockdown period.

MHA in a communication to all States/UTs has requested them that the industrial field establishments and field offices may be apprised of the guidelines of lockdown measures, which should be followed to prevent the spread of epidemic. It has also been directed that these should not be misused to harass the management of any manufacturing/ commercial establishments.

Click here to see the Official Communication to States