One has only to pick up any local newspaper or log into social media to know that the spread of COVID-19 has adversely affected the world’s economy and Lesotho, despite not having any confirmed cases thus far, has also been affected.
This has made it necessary for companies to look for avenues through which they can stay afloat and sadly a lot of employees have already been affected either through a no-work-no-pay policy, reduced salaries and retrenchments.
A no-work-no-pay policy is just that. You are paid only the hours you have worked. When the work is not done, an employee is not eligible for any payment or salary.
With a mandatory lockdown where the government has barred working for all non-essential workers, the question then becomes, “Is your employer obliged to pay you your full month salary even though you did not come to work at all?”
While there are contracts that clearly state a no-work-no-pay policy, unfortunately most contracts are quiet on what should happen in the event that employees cannot come to work as a result of a national lockdown. Not to mention that employers are also losing out on revenue during this time, making it difficult to pay out salaries. This is especially true for small businesses with limited or zero reserves that are entirely dependent on revenue.
The law is clear on this policy but the truth is it did not foresee an international crisis of this magnitude. Where do we draw the line between being on the side of the law and treating employers humanely? The only thing to do in such a case is to sit down with your employees as a business owner and explain to them the challenges you are facing and negotiate a way forward and come to an agreement with them.
There are essential services that now have to operate for shorter hours as a result of the lockdown and as such, are generating less income. It is still important to talk to your employees and explain that due to the circumstances you will pay them only for the hours worked, unless of course you can afford to pay normal salaries.
Developed countries across the world have established funds to mitigate the losses that employees will suffer during this time. There are countries whose laws have made provisions for a force majeur paid leave (any unforeseen circumstances that prevent the fulfillment of a contract usually as result of a superior force or an act of God.)
While it will take a while for Lesotho as a country to get to that level, one thing that the current lockdown should have taught us is that employers should find a way to insure salaries; employees as well should have salary insurance, emergency funds and any other fall back plan for when times like these happen.