How to address safety, protect jobs, address insecurity and conduct appropriate retrenchment

Anna Triponel

April 13, 2020

The International Financial Corporation (IFC) is a global development institution that focuses on building the private sector in developing countries. Although the primary audience is its clients, IFC’s recently released guidance, Interim Advice for IFC Clients on Supporting Workers in the Context of COVID-19, can be helpful for all employers.

First the report describes how COVID-19 may disproportionately impact vulnerable segments of the workforce, including (i) casual, temporary, gig economy, seasonal, or informal workers, (ii) older workers, workers with underlying health issues, and workers with disabilities, (iii) migrant workers and (iv) women and girls.

It then delves into possible actions companies can take in three areas.

When it comes to addressing safety, prevention and response measures are possible in a range of areas including communication, cough hygiene, hand sanitation, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, food preparation, air quality control, personal protective equipment and worker accommodation.

When it comes to protecting jobs and addressing insecurity, the report describes the kinds of concerns workers can have before outlining possible approaches to keeping employees in work, possible job protection responses, as well as other support that can be provided to workers.

Source: International Finance Corporation (IFC), Interim Advice for IFC Clients on Supporting Workers in the Context of COVID-19 (April 2020)

When it comes to retrenchment (also known as collective redundancy or mass layoff), the report provides that this should be opted for as a last resort, and carried out in accordance with national law and applicable collective bargaining agreements.

The report concludes with a ‘job protection and employment security checklist’ to support companies in assessing state support and relevant legal requirements, as well as potential worker safety and job protection measures.

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