ILO-Ministry of Manpower launch a Guideline for Labour Inspection in Time of Pandemic

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The Indonesian Ministry of Manpower, with support from the ILO, recently issued and launched a Guideline for Labor Inspection in Time of Pandemic on 2 September, as a response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the world of work. The Guideline aims to optimize the performance of labour inspectors in dealing with new ways of working such as working from home, digitalization, e-commerce and flexible working hours.

The launch of Labour Inspection Guideline in the Time of the Pandemic

Haiyani Rumondang, Director General on Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), stated that the Guideline is aspired to improve the quality and effectiveness of labour inspection mechanisms to be more integrated and credible. “It is part of the Ministerial labour inspection reform under our nine key strategy programmes that also include, among others, transformations in learning centers, job link and match, industrial relations, digitalization and youth employment,” she said before more than 2,100 viewers and participants.

“The Guideline can help labour inspectors dealing with inspection challenges faced during the pandemic and safeguarding the application of labour compliance and international labour standards,” Michiko stated, adding that it could also enhance the contribution of labour inspectors to the prevention of COVID-19 at workplaces.

Referring to the Manpower Ministerial Decree No. 33 of 2016 on Labour Inspection Procedures, the Guideline provides instructions for labour inspectors on inspection procedures during a pandemic, starting with planning, implementation and reporting. The Guideline also introduces the use of technology, such as drones, in conducting highly effective surveillance activities in time of pandemic.

Good practices on online labour inspection mechanisms

Welcoming the use of technology for labour inspection, Angga Suanggana, a labour inspector from the Provincial Manpower Office of Yogyakarta, shared his online labour inspection programme through video inspections, zoom meetings and online inspection forms. “Out of 57 companies, 40 companies have taken part in our online inspections. More socialization to companies are needed as not all companies are familiar with this new, online approach,” Angga told.

Similarly, Bukti Rantau, a labour inspector from the Provincial Manpower Office of Riau Islands, has made the best use of smartphone and smart application to conduct online labour inspection. “Due to the geographic nature of Riau Islands and the travel restriction, we need to apply the online mechanism. However, we do not only focus on labour compliance issues, but also cover issues on industrial relations and protection of workers,” he said.

At the enterprise level, Sri Melga Rahmawati, Compliance Manager & Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Expert of PT Shinwon Indonesia, and Achmad A. Miftakhurrohman, General Manager of PT Pertamina Hulu Energi Offshore North West (PHE ONWJ, also focused on the online inspection mechanisms to protect both workers and the companies. Both companies focused on daily inspections by conducting online health assessments, health protocols and vaccinations as well as by strengthening the roles of the company’s OSH Committee.

Independent and self-audit mechanism was also promoted by the Better Work Indonesia (BWI) programme, a partnership between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), member of World Bank Group, to its hundreds of participating factories in garment sector. Nenden Aminah, Team Leader and Head of Compliance Assessment Tools (CAT) Focal Point BWI, explained that the BWI has developed various online mechanisms, including virtual company’s tour, virtual services through the OSH Committee and the Bipartite Cooperation as well as virtual compliance check.

Maintaining balance between online and offline inspections

Commenting on the usage of technology and the application of online inspection mechanism, Rene Robert, ILO’s Specialist on Labour Administration and Labour Inspecton, reminded the participants the importance of on-site inspections. “Self-assessments are not a substitute for labour inspectors as the important roles of the inspectors include to directly speak and interview workers in a confidential way and to get the full insights about the real condition,” he said.

In addition, he also explained that in time of the pandemic, labour inspectors crucially need to focus on occupational illnesses and diseases, particularly the infectious disease management. “This is also the highlight of the ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference 2021. Therefore, labour inspections should maintain well-coordination with public health authorities,” he concluded.

The ILO’s support to the Guideline was given through its Occupational Safety and Health and Income Support in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Project. Funded by the Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Project aims to strengthening OSH measures to facilitate return to work in acceptable conditions of safety and health after COVID 19 lockdown, particularly in garment sector.

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