India: Coronavirus Update for Employers in India

Coronavirus update for employers in IndiaThis coronavirus update for employers in India is provided by Asinta’s Partner Prudent. Updated March 16, 2020.

The Indian government has already implemented formal measures to stem the tide of COVID-19. The information below contains news and sound advice for global workforce managers with employees in India regarding ways to manage the virus’ impact.

The Indian government is taking many steps to combat the spread of COVID-19.

  • Government hospitals provide free testing and hospitalization to anyone who is infected and needs treatment.
  • The government is carrying out body temperature screenings and requires a declaration of good health from all international passengers arriving at all airports or ports in India.
  • Visa cancellation is in effect for travelers from China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, and Japan.
  • Anyone suspected of infection must be under quarantine either at home or a hospital pending return of test results.
  • The quarantine lifts only if the person is medically certified to test negative for the virus.
  • Anyone who has the virus must be under quarantine. If hospitalization is a requirement, patients must stay in government or private hospitals with isolation wards, and are approved by th state health department to admit COVID-19 patients.
  • Primary school closures are in effect in NOIDA and Delhi after infected people were identified in those cities. Schools may close in other areas if more cases come to light.
  • The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has set up a national hotline number +91 11 2397 8046 and email ncov2019@gmail.com and has established a 24/7 control room at DGHS (HQ). Contact them for any query related to COVID-19 at +91 11 2230 7145, 2230 0012, or 2230 0036.
  • District level medical surveillance teams are in areas with infected people. More are being set up. These teams can visit people who are possibly infected and transport them to hospitals, if required. They are also conducting education camps in office buildings, malls, markets, schools, and government offices.

Regarding Coverage

  • In general, the health insurance policy in India covers hospitalization (minimum 24 hours admission required) for any illness, including COVID-19, for which there is an active line of treatment. Insurers do not pay for hospitalization without an active line of treatment.
  • If hospitalization occurs for an insured suspected of infection, and there was no active line of treatment, and the test results are negative, the claim may be non-admissible.
  • In general, insurance policies exclude pandemics.
  • Insureds with outpatient coverage may have coverage for quarantine at home if the wording includes diagnostics, consultations, and medications.
  • Global travel insurance will pay for illness, including illness arising from COVID-19. However, make sure to review the exclusions under your company’s travel policy.
  • Accidental Death & Disability insurance will pay claims arising from accidental death and disability. COVID-19 is not an accident.
  • Term life will pay death claim arising from COVID-19. We advise reviewing all your contracts to understand any terms, conditions, or exclusions that may limit coverage.
  • For employees in Karnataka, employers must offer paid leave for those infected by COVID-19.

Other insights for employers

  • Best practice is to restrict travel abroad or cancel/postpone large group/corporate events.
  • From the Indian perspective, global employers should ensure their subsidiary is actively working to deal with the virus e.g. creating a command center to provide information or reporting potential cases, prevention and mitigation, sick leave, work-from-home policies, transportation, office hygiene/disinfection, and personal privacy, among other issues.
  • Be aware that statutory leaves may not be adequate to cover a quarantine period of 14 days, which is the minimum advised. However, work-from-home option or meetings through video calling can be extended to all employees or just employees exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Extending additional paid sick leave would be a benevolent and risk-mitigating gesture.

Communicate with your employees

  • Educate employees about the virus and how it spreads and caution them that social media may spread false or misleading information. Advise employees to seek reliable information and guidance from government resources such as the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • Utilize webinars to reach out to employees at home and in remote locations.
  • Provide information about hospitals where people can get tested or admitted.
  • Discuss insurance benefits with your consultant and carrier to understand how the insured benefits apply to COVID-19 then inform employees about how their coverage applies, e.g., hospitalization without active line of treatment may not be submitted as a claim.
  • Advise on the importance of privacy for any team and family member who has been infected.
  • Encourage employees to self-report recent travel abroad and the possibility of contact with an infected person, and encourage these employees to remain at home for the minimum quarantine period prescribed.

 

This coronavirus update for employers in India is one of a series dedicated to helping global workforce managers navigate the evolving challenges brought on by COVID-19. Expect regular articles such as this from the Asinta Partnership as the global impact of the coronavirus unfolds.