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Be ready to take unpaid leave or lose your job
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|Be ready to take unpaid leave or lose your job by Kenyans247(1): Wed 18, March, 2020 11:12am|
It’s 12.30pm in Nairobi. The streets are empty. If it were not for the virus scare, this would be a holiday. A waiter smiles as he fights to get my attention to convince me to get into an almost empty restaurant for lunch.
He is armed with a hand sanitiser, ready to sprinkle it on my palms if I decide to get in. He’s wearing a pair of gloves as a second layer of protection. Clearly, he’s not taking any chances. You can see a big temporary hand washing station freshly erected at the door, ready for patrons.
This is one of the efforts put in place by major establishments as they fight to remain open, going all out with hand washing points on a day Kenya confirmed its fourth coronavirus case.
Banks are also not taking any chances. A visit to several banking halls revealed other precautions taken to protect their staff and customers in a bid to ensure business continuity as the effects of the lockdown become severe.
Cleaners are now permanent features in banking halls, entrances of major buildings, restaurants, shopping malls and other major establishments, standing in corners, with gloves and sanitisers, dusting tables and chairs every hour.
The guards have one more responsibility — pointing every new visitor to a sanitisation station before they print out the tickets or join the queue.Other financial institutions, including savings and credit cooperative societies, are asking their customers to scan documents, such as loan forms to their head offices for processing to spare them physical visits.
“We have taken a number of measures to enhance the health and safety of our colleagues and customers, including providing alcohol-based hand sanitisers across our branches,” Absa Bank Kenya said. It has also waived all transaction fees on money transfers between mobile wallets and bank accounts until June 30.
The number of people with face masks on the streets continue to increase. This is despite information that masks do not necessarily help one’s chances, unless taken with other precautions such as hand washing, avoiding physical contact and crowded areas.
However, as businesses fight to remain open, they are now considering painful decisions that will hurt their employees where it matters most.
First, they said you could just work from home. Then this was revised to, ''please take your annual leave'' for some. This, as fast as the virus is moving, has quickly moved to ''take an unpaid leave'' or ''lose your job'' in efforts to deal with the cash shortfalls expected from the coronavirus lockdown.
The Nation has established that several companies, among them big hotels and entertainment spots, have already written to their staff asking them to take forced annual leave to save wage bill costs as they come out with ways to mitigate the impact of the lockdown.
At the global level, airlines, which are bearing the brunt of the lockdown, are considering more painful decisions.
Virgin Atlantic said it plans to ground 75 per cent of its fleet by next week and, consequently, its staff will be asked to take unpaid leave in the next three months.
Such decisions mean employees now have to fend for themselves.
Those with bank loans will also have to find ways of repaying them or renegotiating with their banks on a repayment plan that appreciates the given circumstances.
On Tuesday, Jambojet was forced to suspend flights to Kigali and Entebbe due to few passengers. The budget carrier, which is a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, said the global spread of Covid-19 has resulted in a decrease in passengers.
“As a result, Jambojet has decided to suspend its services to Kigali and Entebbe with immediate effect,” the airline said in a statement.
Kenya Airways said it is losing at least Sh800 million a month on the Chinese route alone. If it factors in the rest of the destinations, the airline is losing billions of shillings.
The stock market was hit as soon as the first case of Covid-19 was reported. The situation was made worse after panicked investors made indiscriminate sale of shares.
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