Employee Welfare During COVID-19

Hotels, food delivery operators like Zomato, Swiggy, and individual operators like Instapizza – ‘India ka Pizza, India ki Values’ and digital payment sites like PhonePe and many others have adopted strict measures to protect their employees as well as customers from the scourge of Coronavirus.


 

By Pradeep Chamaria

The current threat to mankind, Coronavirus or COVID-19 is one of the deadliest health hazards to-date for which neither a vaccine, nor a cure has been found. The global economy has come to a standstill amidst this severe, broad-based pandemic. With thousands already dead and more than half a million affected across the world, we are passing through a difficult phase of life. In India too, thousand has been tested positive and the number of cases is rising rapidly; lives and businesses have been badly affected following the lockdown announced to slow the spread of the virus.

Activities in the global travel & tourism, hospitality, aviation, and cruise sectors have been completed halted amidst coronavirus pandemic. Everyone, including me is now confined to the boundaries of our homes as a precautionary measure. Advisories have been issued by government agencies and all of us are following them accordingly. Tourism boards, hotels and eateries; everyone is concerned and trying to do their best by taking several proactive and timely steps to mitigate the threat and spread of COVID 19. In order to minimize the risk, a variety of measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of all employees, contractors, extended workforce, their families and the broader societal ecosystem around them.

Beginning first week of March, Mandatory Work from Home (WFH) for all the sectors barring the essential services has been in practice, of course with full salaries throughout the WFH so that none of the employee and families are adversely impacted, from a financial standpoint.

Business Continuity Plans by using technology in the best possible way are being setup so that alternatives are available for most of the critical roles. Devices like laptops, desktops, special software and applications to ensure work productivity through online media conferencing are being provided to the employees. Remote on-boarding & training processes for profiles like content writers, and digital marketing have also been setup.

For the sectors where presence of the employee is mandatory, working areas are being steri-fumigated and various measures have been undertaken that include:

· Creating awareness among employees about preventive measures to be taken within & outside office.

· Stopping of punching attendance on bio-metric machine to avoid surface touch. Only digital logins allowed.

· Placing hand sanitizers and napkins at reception area and providing employees with masks, sanitizers and training on necessary precautionary measures.

· Stopping use of common crockery and using available alternate sources like paper plates and cups.

· Training teams to ensure that their families practice social distancing.

· Ensuring strict and regular hygiene procedures in the kitchen.

· Temperature checks prior to entering the kitchens.

· Reducing the number of people on shift at any given time to prevent clustering.

Various organizations which have already adopted these measures to fight the scourge of coronavirus, also include almost every food delivery operation like Zomato, Swiggy, and individual operations like Instapizza – “India ka Pizza, India ki Values”. Others like digital payment sites like PhonePe, various hotels and resorts and many others are also following these measures.

It should be noted here that in the food industry only deliveries are allowed and all seating are suspended under the lockdown. Same goes with the airlines, hotels and resorts. To minimize the financial losses to the customers, most of the hotels have proposed to either refund the full booking amount or to give extra benefits in case the bookings are postponed to a new date. All airlines are following similar steps.

We spoke to Instapizza and they highly praised their delivery teams and kitchen teams that continue to work through the time of COVID19, and said that they are the real heroes of the F&B industry. Various measures have been taken to ensure zero contact during delivery. On the customer side, hand sanitizers are sent to the customer with every order.

Majority of deliveries in the current situation are being made by aggregators of restaurants, Zomato and Swiggy, who are taking extreme measures to ensure full and detailed awareness of the best practices to contain the spread of the virus by their delivery teams. Contactless deliveries are being ensured, and the protocol is to leave the delivery at the customer’s front door or gate, move a distance of at least 5 meters away, and place a call to the customer. The delivery boy remains there until the customer has confirmed, on the phone, that the delivery has been received.

Various other restaurants, lounges and clubs are also feeling the pinch of these lockdowns. Yazu, Pan Asian Supper Club, Mumbai, Yazu, Pan Asian Beach Club, Goa, have been feeling the drastic effects on business. They are taking care of all their employees by providing them with accommodation and stocking their homes with necessary supplies required to get through these times of crisis (like gas, rice, dal, and basic vegetables).

Elephant & Co Gastropub, Pune, have also felt the tremors caused and have asked their staff to stay put and have cancelled all orders and events of the month. They say that the damage is high as there is no revenue generation, but the operating costs like Electricity, damage to the stock, salaries, payment deadlines for suppliers etc. are still mounting.

International Wine & Spirit Expert Vaniitha Jaiin added that with the coronavirus scare, people prefer to have home-cooked food and are avoiding social gatherings and dining out. Hotels, restaurants, wine & spirits retail are all impacted as the travel and tourism business has come to a standstill. Apart from MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) that are most affected, many events and experiences are also put on hold and getting rescheduled for a later date.

In the wine business, Italy, which is one of the significant wine-exporting nations, is the most affected. Major events like ProWein, the world’s biggest international drinks trade show by Messe Düsseldorf, Vinexpo Hong Kong renowned international trade show for professionals in the wine and spirits industry, and in France, the week of the En Primeur or

Wine Futures’ in Bordeaux, that is the method of purchasing wines early while the wine is still in the barrel, and Grands Jours de Bourgogne, have been postponed.

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