President's Office's Communications Undersecretary Mabrouq Abdul Azeez stated on Thursday that measures will be taken against companies penalising their staff members due to economic setbacks over the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Answering a question posed by The Edition during the press conference held in Dharubaaruge, Mabrouq offered assurances that "no staff will lose any of their rights due to COVID-19", adding, "measures will be taken case by case [in such situations]".
Noting that till date, 104 complaints were filed to the Economic Ministry's portal, he said that it included issues over terminations, no-pay leaves, pay cuts, allowance cuts, half-payments, and employment suspensions for a period of time.
Mabrouq stressed that in providing financial schemes aimed at maintaining company cash flow, the government would not offer opportunities to companies currently penalising their employees.
On March 19, Minister of Finance, Ibrahim Ameer confirmed that the government will introduce financial packages worth MVR 2.5 billion to combat the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Finance Minister, the measures were intended to prevent the closing down of local businesses and prevent loss of jobs.
For companies, one of the set conditions of eligibility to acquiring said financial aid is having opted to not deduct any amount from salaries and allowances of their employees.
On March 21, Ministry of Economic Development urged individuals to call out employers terminating or deducting salaries amid the COVID-19 pandemic and report their situation.
The ministry requested those reporting such incidences to include any relevant documents shared by employers with the employee(s) with regard to the changes in their employment status.
Meanwhile, multiple resorts and companies have already deducted salary and allowances, and in-kind, have moved to notify staff of said changes.
Furthermore, top lawyers in the country have spoken to The Edition urging all employees to take note of the circumstances and reasoning under which they are terminated. Additionally, they advised employees, both local and expatriate, not to hesitate in approaching the Employment Tribunal should they feel like they have been wronged, even at such a juncture.
Maldives, like many other countries, has moved to quarantine a number of areas with suspected cases, isolating suspected and confirmed cases alike. However, despite significant public pressure to do so, and although all movement from resorts to islands is now restricted, the country is yet to issue a lockdown blocking all incoming travel from other countries.
As such, resort employees currently face the highest risk of exposure to the virus.
Maldives now has 13 confirmed and five active cases of COVID-19, with eight recoveries. So far, only tourists and resort employees have confirmed infections in Maldives with no record of local transmissions within the country. The first Maldivian tested positive for the virus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 492,056 and claimed over 22,175 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 118,022 have recovered.