Q&A library

What are the best practices that manufacturing sectors can follow to improve the business post Covid 19?
Questioned by Chaarulatha Dhinakaran, Tamil Nadu
"Withdrawal of lockdown is currently happening in a phased manner and companies should prepare for restarting their operations with a careful process in place. A recent Economic Times article dated May 07, 2020 states that the following areas should be looked into to restart operations in an proactive and efficient manner. There are five key issues for Indian manufacturers to deal with, before they begin operations: Safety: Management teams at manufacturing plants need to draw up a comprehensive plan to ensure on-site safety of the workforce. The first task will be to source ample supplies of cleaning material—disinfectants, liquid hand soaps, sanitizers, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) like masks, gloves, hair nets, etc., while undertaking ‘deep sanitisation’ of the entire plant. Additionally, a sanitising tent or tunnel can also be considered. Screening: A screening mechanism for employees and visitors needs to be implemented—various online tools are available for this. In addition to daily screening, a database consisting medical records of employees and their families, tracking their current medical condition and any existing illnesses or diseases can also be maintained. Most importantly, a granular plan for social distancing at work needs to be created via staggered rosters of shifts, alternate lunch/meal times, shop floor recalibration (including demarcated working/movement areas) and constant monitoring. Logistics: While availability of trucks and overall logistical support is gradually improving, there are still areas in the country where availability of such resources is only 20-30 percent, compared to pre-Covid-19 days. In anticipation of such scenarios, companies are advised to expand their vendor base swiftly. Digital platforms which offer aggregator-like services should be considered and included as early as possible. Raw materials: While some companies are able to restart their plants, it is critical to undertake a value chain assessment to understand raw material status and availability of packing materials. People Engagement: People will continue to be the center of response to Covid-19. It is imperative for both plant and corporate senior management to engage regularly with their employees through video-conferencing to get feedback and suggestions. Also with an understanding that plants can only operate with limited manpower, human resource policies around compensation for late shifts, remuneration to support families requiring child care, etc. are impertaive"

What are the regulatory extensions /benefits provided for the small scale businesses owing to the Covid-19 scenario?
Questioned by Divya sukumar , Tamil Nadu
"The government announced a package called “Atma- Nirbhar Bharat Yojana for the Small business group. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave details regarding these financial packages equalling to 10 per cent of the national GDP and amounting to 20 lakh crore rupees. The financial stimulus will cater to various sections of the society, including MSMEs, laborers, middle class and industries. Ms. Sitharaman announced 15 special financial packages of 6 lakh 40 thousand crore rupees benefitting a wide array of sectors including MSMEs, Discoms, Real Estate, Middle Class, Tax Payers and others. In a historical decision, the ambit of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have been widened resulting in inclusion of many small and micro industries under this sector. This decision of altering the definition of MSMEs will increase competition and productivity in the sector. In a major boost to the MSME sector, collateral free loan of 3 lakh crore rupees has been declared with a moratorium of 12 months. These loans will benefit 45 lakh small and medium units. Another package of 20 thousand crore rupees for stressed MSMEs benefitting 2 lakh units have also been announced. Finance Minister informed that 50 thousand crore rupees will be immersed in the MSMEs through the equity channel. Opening up avenues for indigenous companies, Ms. Sitharaman said that bids for Government procurement up to 200 crore rupees will no longer be through Global Tender route. E-Market linkage for MSMEs has been declared to ensure wider reach for sale of wares from the small and medium industries. Government bodies and PSUs have been conducted to clear all pending dues of MSMEs soon."

What do you think are the short term and long investment areas that a salaried employee can think of in the present scenario?.
Questioned by JD, Tamil Nadu
Keeping the expenses low is the key for any time and especially during these tough times. Tax saving, long term NPS, Tax Save,r long term Fixed Deposits are relatively risk free and help park the money into safe hands for longer duration and they can also save some extra money on taxes every year for Short term keeping liquidity in mind for emergencies. Short duration Fixed Deposits, Flexible Recurring deposits, Treasury Securities, Post Office Time Deposits etc are relatively risk free. It is better to avoid stock market/Mutual funds if one is unwilling to take a risk in this highly volatile situation in the market.

Startups are struggling to keep afloat amongst the pandemic....how do you think it is going to pan out with regards to fresh opportunities for new / existing startups in the post pandemic times..
Questioned by JD, Tamil Nadu
There is an opportunity for startups to convert this short-term disadvantage into long-term opportunities. The pandemic has opened up opportunities for many new startups & businesses - Online training, Health & Wellness, NBFCs and Financial Institutions, remote working tools, e-commerce & delivery based startups etc. Also, w.r.t existing start-ups, financial help for businesses are available from various Financial Institutions as well as Government. Likewise, existing startups need to accommodate the operating environment to ensure social distancing, work-from-home etc. and hence, safeguard the interest of their employees as well.

Can the employer reduce pay for the days of forced quarantine spent at home if an employee tests positive for Covid-19?
The Karnataka State Govt. has have announced a paid leave for 28 days of quarantine for any employee or workers who test positive for Covid-19 irrespective of whether this was due to business or personal travel.It would be advisable to check on similar notifications from your respective state governments on this.In case there is no state notification, you may have the option of requesting (not coercing) the employee to avail his accrued leaves ONLY if he has tested positive due to personal travel.

How can we evaluate people performance in a sensitive manner - especially in these challenging times
It is important to first be clear about how we define performance in our organizations. When it comes to evaluating job performance, “there’s no template and it’s not a one size fits all" approach but an empathetic assessment which is always a good way especially in this period. This pivot toward a people-focused management system, built around resilience and agility instead of traditional definitions of efficiency and competitiveness are definitely more sustainable in the long runDoing away with ratings and introducing a narrative-based assessments is an approach you could take

I am a real estate contractor. How can I deal with labour shortage owing to the migrant labourers moving back to their respective hometowns?
"- To hold back migrant labour from returning home, first and foremost, take care of their basic needs -- their daily ration/food, medical requirements, housing/accommodation and transportation to sites every day. Ensure that you are addressing their problems by focussing on labour welfare, health and safety issues. Once a better workplace and career progression is provided, they will feel secure at your worksite.- Be mindful of the wage rates for local labour and evaluate if you can increase the wages to overcome work environment challenges during the current Covid-19 pandemic scenario.- If possible, concentrate majority of your labour-intensive work in the interiors (small towns, villages) where the labour is, instead of asking them to move to the city. This may not be immediate but planning in this direction may ensure sustainability for your projects."

I am an SME that has to downsize my workforce. What are the compliances to be adhered to?
"Layoffs are never easy, especially for a small business owner. Having a process in place can help ensure you part on good terms with the laid off employees and keep your remaining workforce strong.To begin with, the company's handbook should cover circumstances such as severance, confidentiality, return of company property, and other matters related to the end of an employer-employee relationship, and must be signed by both upfront.In case of a layoff, the process for termination should take into account both the reason for termination and the law. The employer must consult with employees (and trade unions, if any) and only then arrive at an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the employer may decide (following careful consideration) to risk acting in breach of contract and still take the decision to lay off/suspend/proceed with a redundancy process. There may be willingness to agree in the current economic scenario; particularly if the alternative is job losses or business closure.Unless it is a clear-cut situation, it is advised to consult with an experienced legal advocate. "

I am an SME that has to cut salaries. What are the compliances I need to keep in mind?
Dealing with statutory compliance requires for companies to be well-versed with the various labour regulations. In India, the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 governs any arbitrary reductions in salaries/wages of employees. Section 9A read with Schedule IV attached to the Act lays down that any reduction in salary, work time or days will amount to a change in conditions of service. As per the Act, no such change can be effected without furnishing the concerned workers with 21 days' prior notice.If company declares it only a normal reduction of working hours or days then it has no right to deduct from employee's basic salary. While in case of lay off and block closure, it may go for salary deduction -- keeping in mind the relevant rules and laws defined under The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (the "ID Act").

I am a fresh graduate. Can I expect some openings in the market or is further studies the only way?
Job hunting is tough right now, but by no means not impossible. Here are some tips on finding your first job in a crisis time like now:• Job first, choice later - Prioritise getting any job to gain work experience and shift domains once the market improves. You can also work through unpaid internships or in your family business, if that is an option.• Additional learning - A great option is to acquire additional certification and defer your entry into the job market. Not only will you be better equipped but the market circumstances will also change in time. So, pursue that Masters or PhD degree right now instead of waiting for the right job to come by.• Online learning - At a time like this, pursuing online learning is a great option to stay occupied, learn more and gain certification (E.g. Coursera, Udemy).

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