The recent outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in many companies in the Asia-Pacific region having to implement alternative measures to ensure the continuation of business, and most importantly, to safeguard against the spread of the virus. Although Indonesia has had no reported cases of the Coronavirus, safety precautions still have to observed. The following guide explores employer obligations and workplace health and safety management in Indonesia, during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Employer Obligations in Indonesia
Employers in Indonesia must enforce a work ‘safety and health management’ system in order to create and sustain a safe, efficient and productive work place for its employees. This includes measures to deal with scenarios such as disease prevention, hazard control, promotion of health, medication and rehabilitation.
In relation to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, employers should follow the guidelines issued by Indonesia’s Ministry of Health (“MOH”) and pay close attention to further announcements and advisories made by the public body.
In addition to the general guidelines issued by the MOH, the local office of the MOH in Jakarta has also recently issued an announcement on vigilance against the Coronavirus (for the attention of company directors, building management and entertainment venues in the city). This letter details how employers can detect, prevent and respond to the situation. This includes:
- Reporting individuals who show symptoms of the COVID-19 to the local MOH office; and
- Providing employees with information on how to prevent the spread of the virus (e.g., regular hand washing).
Employment measures in Indonesia
Working remotely is not specifically regulated in Indonesia. Given the circumstances of the current Coronavirus outbreak, some employers may consider requesting employees to work from home. However, INS Global is not aware of employers implementing this measure yet. As of the publication date of this notification, there has been no announcement or guideline issued by the Indonesian Ministry of Employment and the MOH requiring employers to impose alternative arrangements for their employees.
Where working remotely is not possible (e.g., due to the nature of the work), employers are still at liberty to request their employees to remain at home and not come to work out of health and safety concerns. However, the employee must continue to receive his/her full salary and benefits during the temporary suspension period.
Employers cannot force their employees to take annual leave or unpaid leave. Such leave requires consent from the employee.
The Indonesian government has imposed a number of travel restrictions to protect the health and safety of all people. The following measures have been imposed:
- Foreigners who have travelled to mainland China in the last 14 days are not permitted to enter Indonesia. This includes transiting;
- Indonesian nationals are not permitted to travel to mainland China; and
- Flights both to and from mainland China, have been suspended until further notice.
Current measures in Indonesia
Although Indonesia has reported no confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus, a number of measures are being implemented by employers in Indonesia to minimise the risk of infection and to uphold a duty of care towards their employees.
Employees are limiting non-essential business travel to mainland China (given that the government has imposed a temporary travel ban, thus leading to no flights available). Some employers are advising employees to limit non-urgent overseas travel even to destinations outside mainland China.
Employers are also providing offices with sanitizing products to encourage good hygiene in the workplace, including hand sanitizers and masks.
Some employers are organizing “health talks”, inviting medical professionals to speak to employees about the Coronavirus, the risks it poses and how to prevent the risk of infection at home and in the workplace.
Current regulations permit an employer to request an employee to undergo a medical examination if there are any concerns about an employee’s state of health. In light of the current situation, some employers are encouraging employees to visit a doctor if they are feeling unwell, especially if they have recently returned from an overseas trip.