No special leave for Kerala govt employees who are primary contacts of Covid patients

A government office in Kerala. File photo

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has cancelled the one-week special casual leave that employees of government, quasi-government and public sector units were earlier eligible for, if they were to become primary contacts of Covid-positive people.

The provision to take special leave had been in effect since September last year. With the provision being withdrawn, primary contacts will have to report for work or take leave and stay at home.

But the 7-day special casual leave for the Covid-positive employees and the special casual leave granted to employees in case of hospitalisation for the entire treatment period has not been withdrawn.

The order issued by the disaster management authority states that if the employees are on the primary contact list, they should inform the office, and follow all Covid guidelines, such as maintaining social distancing and monitoring themselves. If any symptoms were to surface, they should take the measures in accordance to the health department's guidelines.

As per the central government directives, the employees should be granted work-from-home for three to seven days if they were to become primary contacts of Covid-infected. If any of the family members is diagnosed with Covid, they can avail one week of work-from-home with the permission of the departmental head.

The service associations complained that the government cancelled the special casual leave even though the states can only tighten the Centre's guidelines and not make relaxations. There was no work-from-home option either. They contend that this would lead to Covid spread at government offices.

As per the order dated September 15, those employees who test positive for Covid and are on the primary contact list should report for work at offices after seven days if they test negative.

This was later amended to state that the testing was not mandatory and that employees should resume work at offices after seven days if there are no symptoms.

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