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  • IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section


    What measures are being taken to safeguard the employees? What do you do if anyone is affected by the deadly virus?

    Strongly believe in 'people first' policy.
    India is reeling under the second wave of the pandemic and there is chaos all around. Fibre2Fashion spoke to some brand owners to know how they are managing the situation at the staff level.

    More than 80 per cent of our staff is working from home. Only the essential team members come to the office because somebody has to come to office to pack and ship out the stuff. Second, proper safety protocols and precautions are being taken-be it social distancing or sanitisation. The temperature is checked at the entry and exit points, so that we can minimise the risk as much as possible. We have arranged food for around 500 families and are trying to provide as much help as possible from our side, to mitigate the difficulties of those in need. For in-house staff, we have our own group of doctors and testers who take care of the testing requirements and provide medical supervision when needed. Apart from this, we have arranged for pulse oximeters, testing kits and medicines for them. We were lucky enough to arrange oxygen cylinders for a few who really needed them. We got them the help when they needed it the most. Fortunately, only two people have got severely affected, given that a lot others were infected because they went out everywhere. We are relieved that the severely ill employees are doing quite well now, and they are on their way to complete recovery.

    Given the current scenario, we at Amiraah and I-Design Studios have extended financial support to all our employees with zero salary deductions. Whilst keeping in mind that charity begins from home, we started creating small immunity booster kits for our employees and karigars making sure they are healthy and safe. The staff affected by the Covid-19 infection gets paid sick leave. Also, we offer medical or financial support to all the in-house staff or their immediate family member who are affected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    Biba as a team stands together as one and as an organisation that strongly believes in the 'people first' policy. Everyone will be working from home till the situation settles. We have formed a COVID Support Group that is working 24x7 to help the employees and their loved ones who are in need in these times of crisis. Help with oxygen, hospital beds, critical medicines, COVID vaccination, testing, etc is provided. Employees are covered under medical insurance for covid-19. We are ensuring constant communication and support is given to those who have been affected or whose families have been affected. They are
    encouraged to take time off and be with their loved ones. Biba is also looking at a vaccination camp where all employees and their spouses will get vaccinated free of cost to ensure the safety and good health of everyone.

    All employees have been registered for full coverage Covid insurance. Chumbak bears the cost of vaccination for all team members. Chumbak has tied up with a prominent online mental health service to provide assistance to employees. We will subsidise the cost of these services for all employees. Chumbak has introduced measures to take care of its employees/staff such as 'Take it easy Wednesdays'-4.5 days are working days instead of five, with the second half of Wednesday being a mandatory leave. Additionally, all team members are requested to avoid any internal or external team meetings in the working half of Wednesday.?

    Before testing, when an employee is feeling slightly unwell, feverish or showing any symptoms, he/she is advised to take leave and rest at home. He/she need not report to work, but is requested to keep the immediate manager and/or HR updated on their health and treatment. When they test positive, they should inform the immediate management and HR. The type of treatment that they take is up to them and the doctor that they are consulting, as it depends on the severity of the symptoms, their current location, if they are living with family or not. The team supports them in many ways-as much leave is given as needed.?

    At Amoha, I realised that this is the time that my teams need my support the most-mentally as well as financially. I decided that though we have been in a lockdown situation most of this month (May), the salaries of the employees-sales executives as well as the tailors and karigars-will be paid fully. We plan to support them financially till this lockdown continues.

    Regular calls to the staff to check up on their health are being undertaken by me personally and every time I am reminding them to keep themselves and their families safe as each member of my team is equally important to Amoha. Thankfully, as of now, I haven't been faced with such a situation and my staff has been healthy and safe. However, as it is a possibility that can come real, we have a few mandates in place-starting with ensuring that the staff will be given a paid leave and all medical expenses will be covered.

    Having started my label in the middle of the pandemic, I've seen a lot of the weavers in Phulia struggle to sell their merchandise and thus make ends meet. In my own little capacity, I purchased some dead stock from them and used those materials for my new brand "Tale as old as time". Simultaneously I also introduced them to the idea of selling directly online and so far it has been a huge success for them. We maintain extremely high sanitisation standards at the studio. Every alternate day the entire place is fogged, and no one enters the premises without a mask or leaves without a mask. This being said, my team mostly commute by bus and the journey is very long; so the risk of picking up the virus is high, which is why they have been offered a three-day working week wherein they come on Monday and stay at the studio till Thursday after lunch and then return home for the rest of the week. This reduces the number of times they have to travel back and forth. So far, we have been able to avoid the virus, or we've nipped it in the bud as we have all at some point had a slight sniffle or cough. What we would do in this situation is immediate isolation, fogging of the studio and lots of home remedies for the entire team-taking steam, gargling and sipping on warm liquids with continued temperature and oxygen checks. We hope that we can avoid this virus; so, now we're all waiting to get vaccinated and hopefully
    can resume normal healthy life soon.

    The second wave has taken the country by storm. During the first wave too when there was a strict lockdown for three months, we didn't deduct the salaries of our employees and kept it normal for both permanent and temporary factory workers. In this deadly second wave though there is no lockdown in the entire country as yet, but shops are temporarily closed as a safety measure in various cities and towns. We intend to pay full salaries to our employees. The financial impact has still not been worked out as the uncertainty in business is still continuing. For our own staff, if anyone or his/her family member is affected, we give them full paid leave to take care of themselves and families. We extend financial aid to the affected. Besides, we are conducting internal moral and psychological sessions to create a safe and healthy environment in the company, including extending extra weekly offs. Additionally, we are also trying to tie up with hospitals to provide free vaccination for all our eligible employees.

    Oru has been operating through the lockdown and adapting to the need of the hour-be it manufacturing of masks or paying the daily wages to the weavers for our garments. We are learning and contributing to this fight against Covid-19.

    We conduct frequent tests on our employees for keeping a check on their health. We also have a vaccination drive going on. In case any of our employees are tested positive for Covid-19, they are taken to our special health facility that we have set up along with Ikjot, our NGO, and provide complete medical care, food, and other required facilities free of cost. Besides, striving for strict protocols and measures, Saundh safeguards employees by the usage of protective paraphernalia such as screens, sneeze guards, face masks and enhanced hand hygiene. While undertaking these measures, it has also ensured proper ventilation and disinfection across all its offices and factories in order to ensure a safe and secure workplace. It has also implemented mandatory physical distance guidelines and safety processes. It has undertaken daily compulsory antigen test for each and every worker at the factory. It has also organised special vaccination camps (starting in May) at the office/ factory premises for all employees. Work from home for 10 days has been administered across all locations.

    This article was first published in the June 2021 edition of the print magazine.

    Published on: 15/06/2021

    DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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