Covid-19 in Indonesia: New Rules on Safe Working Introduced Ahead of Reopening of Economy
Despite a continuing rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia, the Government is laying the groundwork for the imminent lifting of partial lockdowns around the country and a general reopening of the economy based on the application of what is termed the "New Normal," which appears to basically be a shorthand, less worrying way of saying that, until a vaccine is found, Covid-19 cannot be beaten and so we will all just have to come to terms with it.
In line with this, the Minister of Health has issued Decree Number HK.01.07/Menkes/ 328/2020 (the “Decree”, effective 20 May 2020), which sets out a series of protocols that must be adhered to by employers, employees and government institutions so that physical work may be resumed in offices and factories.
Requirements for Employers
Under the Decree, employers are required to:
Employer Response to Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Covid-19 in the Workplace
In responding to a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 in the workplace, employers need to have regard to the following Covid-19 case definitions:
Should an employee be found to satisfy the criteria set out in any of the above definitions, the employer should promptly report the matter to the nearest health center or local government health agency so that the individual concerned can be tested or receive treatment, as the case may be.
Should a suspect case, probable case or confirmed case be identified in the workplace, the employer should endeavor to trace other people who have come within 1 meter of the individual concerned in the preceding 14 days.
Employees who are found to have:
are required to take rapid tests and to self-quarantine / self-isolate, work from home, practice hygienic behavior and maintain physical distancing. Furthermore, a work area frequented by a suspect case, probable case or confirmed case must be promptly cleansed and disinfected by the employer.
From the time Covid-19 first hit the headlines in Indonesia back in January, the Government’s top priority appears to have always been to protect the economy. This was signaled earlier in the year by regular nonchalant pronouncements on the virus from senior officials, including the Minister of Health, implying that it was nothing to worry about and that Indonesia would somehow be immune. It was only after the growing death toll in the key provinces of Jakarta, Central Java and West Java resulted in something approaching panic among local government leaders that the Central Government was finally forced to permit partial lockdowns to be introduced. But even then, a number of Central Government ministries (particularly the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Communications) appeared determined to limit the impact of partial lockdowns on commerce and industry by issuing large-scale exemptions, much to the chagrin of local leaders.
Given the Central Government’s focus on limiting the economic damage from Covid-19, plus a growing realization that the virus is far from being another Spanish Flu, it comes as no surprise that its main focus now seems to be to find a way to reopen the economy as quickly as possible while at the same time reassuring the public that everything feasible is being done to contain the virus. In reality, of course, what the Government is doing reflects a growing international trend, where the “wealth” proponents seem to be gaining the upper hand in the ongoing, often heated “health versus wealth” debate over whether public health or the economy should be the top priority.
As for the protocols set out in the Decree, they are more or less as one would expect in the circumstances. The only real surprise is that they are not backed by sanctions for non-compliance. Given this lack of sanctions and human nature being what it is, it is difficult to envisage their being diligently adhered to for long, particularly after the current wave of Covid-19 subsides. This is something that could leave Indonesia vulnerable to a second, and potentially more damaging, outbreak of the virus looking ahead.
Should you have any queries or require legal advice on how you can best protect your interests during this time of uncertainty, please contact any of the persons below, call us on +6221-2505125, or email us at email@example.com.
Mr. Emir Nurmansyah (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Nafis Adwani (email@example.com)
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This edition of ABNR News and the contents hereof are intended solely to provide a general overview, for informational purposes, of selected recent developments in Indonesian law. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Accordingly, ABNR accepts no liability of any kind in respect of any statement, opinion, view, error, or omission that may be contained herein. In all circumstances, you are strongly advised to consult a licensed Indonesian legal practitioner before taking any action that could adversely affect your rights and obligations under Indonesian law.