All employees in Seychelles with children under age 15 who had to proceed on annual leave because of the closure of schools will not have their annual leave deducted.
This latest development in Seychelles was announced by the Employment Department on Monday, following the closure of all daycares centres and educational institutions due to COVID-19.
The Ministry for Education had on March 16 announced the closure of all its public schools - 25 primary and 11 secondary schools - on the three main islands. The island nation's four private schools also took the same measures.
The closures were first planned for 14 days. But now that Seychelles has seven confirmed cases of COVID - 19, stricter measures are being imposed.
On Friday, President Danny Faure said that all educational institutions including the University of Seychelles, the Guy Morel Institute and daycare centres will close until further notice.
A public health emergency was declared as of Monday in Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean -- and the employment department is working closely with the Attorney General to see how best to proceed with the situation.
Jules Baker, Principal Secretary for Employment explained that the new measures are applicable for workers from both the public and private sectors.
"We have seen that parents were forced to take annual leave to stay with their children. This has also had a direct impact on their employment with a large number of absences," said Baker.
Baker explained that employees will benefit from on the COVID- 19 leave, therefore their annual leave will not be forfeited. However, as of April, 1, employees of businesses that closed down for a specific period because of the COVID-19 will also proceed on COVID-19 leave, meaning their annual leave will not be forfeited.
Parents of children who are in schools, daycare and childminders will as from April continue on COVID-19 leave until the authority advises otherwise. If other sectors are ordered to shut down by the Public Health Authority then the conditions of these employees will also be protected.
Whilst some parents had taken leave to stay with their children others due to the nature of their jobs cannot afford to and have simply opted to work from home. SNA reached out to some parents in this situation.
The writer of this article was herself working from home and concluded that this can be challenging.
Some organisations had advised staff who can to work from home. "As my childminder had informed me that she will not be taking the kids, I am now working from home the whole section is doing this as our work involve a lot of report writing," a mother of two who works in finance told SNA.
Monica Francoise, currently employed by the University of Seychelles, said that her day working from home starts early, as early as 6 am.
"I check emails and deal with pending issues, by 8 am it is time to care for the kids, attend to house chores and at the same time answer and make phone calls," said Francoise. The mother also added that working from home is stressful as she is also studying part-time.
Lyn Absa, a mother and primary school teacher, said her stay at home days are spent teaching her 5 years old son and assisting other parents. "As my class has a WhatsApp page, I am always contacted to send more lessons or give clarifications to students in my class."
These parents told SNA that they are praying that the situation of COVID-19 can be contained, lives are saved and life on the islands returns to normal - something that the world is also praying and hoping for.