Duty of Care During Pandemic- Accommodative Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility

The concept of Duty of Care in corporates refers to the additional moral duties vested in the hands of the corporates and organizations wherein they have certain liabilities and responsibilities towards the employees who work for them. It aims to make the workplace a thriving environment for growth and safeguards the interest as well the work experience of the employees. It rightfully falls under the Corporate Social Responsibility of an organization wherein the workplace and social rights of the employees are respected, uplifted and implemented.

The outbreak of the Pandemic, COVID-19, has rendered major safety concerns amongst the entire population due to the fear of spread of the highly contagious disease. At such times of uncertainty and unpredictability, providing for a safe environment for the employees should be of utmost importance to any organization. The strategies, policies and procedures should be re-directed towards the provision of a safe and shielded operating atmosphere. Transnational issues such as the pandemic requires collective thinking of collective concerns which can lead to creation of good-will for the corporates, too. Dr. CV Vethirajan says that “the CSR activities taken by corporate during the covid 19 pandemic creates good image, reputation and name among their customer and it pulls new customer in future”.

Communication, Hygiene & Sanitation and Future Plan of Action

All the above are interrelated, important indicators to provide assurance and maintain transparency between the employers and the employees. Communication about the spread of the pandemic should be done regularly with provision to incorporate responses to adversities faced by the latter. Communication about the functioning of the organisation should also be disseminated to keep the employees in the loop which includes details about leave with pay, online meetings and other requirements. Future plan of action such as duration of work from home, workplace conduct post-pandemic should be drafted and communicated. Plans drafted for worst-case scenario should be conveyed in detail. Hygiene and sanitization drives should be undertaken to ensure a safe workplace environment. There are multiple corporates who have incorporated and assembled rubrics for Work for Home scenario and other sanitary measures. Multiple organizations have asked its employees to continue working from home for a few more months since it anticipates the increase in Covid-19 spread. Many others have undertaken robust measures to maintain suitable work atmosphere such as shift rotations, temperature scans, distribution of masks, provision of expenses for COVID-19 testing and many more.

Mental Health

With the draconian measures implemented by the respective countries to restrict the spread, employees are home-bound with very limited access to socio-cultural interactions thereby increasing the possibility of it to take a toll on their mental health due to sudden isolation.  Julio Torales in his paper argues that stress, anxiety and depressive fear can influence the decision-making ability of policy-makers and other such behavioural patterns which can in turn affect the strategy making in times of such a global threat. Mental disorders such as germaphobia, anxiety, depression, dysphoria and many more should be taken into consideration and appropriate provisions should be made. Corporates in its provisions of caring for employees should incorporated attention to various resources such as increased and free access to mental health and wellness program.

Conclusion

According to Jeff Gentill, duty of care practices can be implemented to mitigate risks which belong to five main categories – Health, Safety, Environment, Legal, Culture and Security. Certain accommodative policies should be in place that can be enacted to ameliorate employees’ well-being.  The concept of Duty of Cure should be implemented as accommodative policies by corporates to ameliorate employees’ well-being since the pandemic has led to fear mongering and uncertainty among them which would affect the quality of work expected from them. The credibility and accountability of organizations in order to safeguard the employees from these risks can be achieved and ascertained by implementing certain workplace policies and granting rights to the aforementioned. These policies would therefore provide a sense of protection and assurance amongst employees ensuring that they provide full impetus to their assigned services. which provide them and their family with health benefits and insurances especially during a pandemic. It can be thus perceived that Duty of Care post-pandemic will be treated as a crucial necessary policy instead of being just a moral obligation.


About the Author:

Manisha Halder is currently pursuing her Masters in International Studies at Christ University, Bangalore and has graduated in English Honours from the aforementioned University. She was working with Mitkat Advisory as an Information Services Intern.


Published On - Jun 29,2020

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