Post Lockdown: Mandatory Medical Insurance Policy For Employees

The Novel Coronavirus outbreak has hugely impacted almost every country in the world and India is not an exception. The government of India imposed a compulsory nationwide lockdown from 24th March 2020 until 3rd March 2020 to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Only workplaces and establishments that offer essential services can continue operations that are subject to adopt necessary measures for combating the pandemic. It discusses the impact of lockdown as well as the essential measures that employers must consider to ensure the health and safety of their employees.

CompulsoryLockdown Of Workplaces & Establishments

The government of India’s order directed private offices, commercial establishments, industrial establishments, and factories to remain closed during the lockdown. But, this order isn’t applicable to certain kinds of workplaces like-

  • Hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical establishments
  • Insurance companies and banks
  • Electronic and print media
  • Establishments offering internet, telecommunication, broadcasting and cable services
  • Warehousing service providers and cold storage
  • Establishments offering IT-enabled services to essential service providers
  • Factories that manufacture essential commodities

 

The Obligation of Health Insurance CoverFor Business Organizations

Besides imposing lockdown on the physical operations of establishments, the government made it mandatory for employees that start functioning as the lockdown to get over for providing medical insurance to their employees.

RoopamAsthana - the Director and CEO of Liberty General Insurance had earlier said that it isn’t compulsory for employers to provide health insurance to their employees. But, it was later found out that some employers were purchasing ‘Group Health Insurance’ to cover their employees. Usually, a corporate group health insurance policy covers hospitalisation expenses of employees and defined family members.

According to the circular issued by the Ministry Of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, the order stipulated-

All industrial and commercial establishments, workplaces, offices etc. shall put in place arrangements for the implementation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) before starting their functioning. As per clause no. 5 of Annexure - II of the said SOP for social distancing for offices, workplace, factories and establishments, medical insurance for the workers to be made mandatory, as per the circular.

In the above circular, insurers have been advised to provide comprehensive health insurance policies for groups or individuals to stay in compliance with the guidelines of the government. Also, they were advised to devise comprehensive medical insurance products with simple conditions at affordable costs.

According to Dr. S. Prakash – MD of Star Health & Allied Insurance, any comprehensive health insurance cover or group medical insurance policy is a one-of-a-kind gesture by companies towards their employees. He believes that after the order of the MHA, every company should strive towards providing health insurance cover to its employees.

What If An Employee Is Covered Under The Employee State Insurance or the ESI?

According to the Labour Law of India, any organised sector employee with a monthly remuneration of Rs. 21,000 or less is covered under the ESI Act of 1948. Employees insured under the ESIC Act are entitled to several benefits like maternity benefits, sickness benefits, medical benefits, etc. Usually, employees who are covered under the Employee State Insurance Act within an organisation are not covered under the Group Health Insurance policy offered by employers.

How Long Will The Medical Insurance Cover Last?

Typically, medical insurance cover is taken for one year at least for catering to health issues that can commence during a lockdown and even extend beyond. But, employees can also get their medical insurance policies tailored to suit the budget of enterprises with affordability issues.

The IRDAI specified, “Organisations should be able to continue the Medical Insurance Policy offered by insurers not only for the present situation but for all time.”

This clearly means that the mandatory health insurance policy isn’t restricted to the lockdown period only. Employers can easily take an insurance cover for much longer periods with yearly renewals.

Conclusion:

Mandatory insurance policy is essential for every business organisation to safeguard its employees during this time of crisis. Ensure you choose insurance policies that continue not only for the present situation but also for all times.

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