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To work or not to work? That is the question.

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To work or not to work? That is the question.

To work or not to work? That is the question.

Social Media Platforms was fueled with speculations and prayers on the approach of cyclone Bansi, the reason is that many people needed a Class 3 to skip school - no sorry, I meant, skip work. It is unfortunate that the thousand of people who live in precarious houses would have been affected, but one day off is worth it, some seemed to reprehensibly think.

Cyclone warning class 1: Normal a day of work, a couple of leaf here and there on the streets, a few wind gust to mess up your hair - a normal work day.

Cyclone warning class 2: Is quite interesting, cyclones-addicts remains scotched to their radios or to their screens for that matter, the reason is that some companies offers flexibility to attend work or not during a Cyclone warning class 2.

Cyclone warning class 3: Is according to laws governed by the country - a paid leave.

Cyclone warning class 4: Definitely no work. Paid leave.

The three most powerful cyclones to stuck our shores was Gervaise in 1975 with gust of winds at a staggering 280 Km/hr, Carol in year 1960 was accompanied with powerful winds of 256 Km/hr and Intense Cyclone Jenny peaking at 235 Km/hr. When people who witnessed Gervaise with 280 Km/hr relate to you how it has been- the trauma still appears on their face. To put things in perspective, the last cyclone to rise above the bar of winds at 200 Km/hr was Cyclone Dina in 2002.

Now back to dear Bansi. Even when a Cyclone warning class 1 was enforced, which is the lowest class on the ladder, the Ministry of Education through the MinisterMrs Leela Devi Dookhun decided on the outset to close all educational institutions, most likely to prevent of bis repetita of 26 March 2008.

Trip down to memory lane. 26 March 2008 the country was running at full swing, all educational institutions, offices both in Public and Private sector was undergoing a normal day, despite the fact that during the last hours, it have rained copiously in many regions of the country. This was due to the effect of Cyclone Lola who left heavy clouds in her trail which happened to be passing over Mauritius.
Even if the danger of a flood was preponderant, activities continued normally. Shortly afternoon, schools were ordered to release their students amidst the heavy rain and flooded rivers. Imagine the chaos for a minute. Imagine 50,000 students from primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational institutions rushing home in a heavy rain while our soil was already saturated and the rain did not seem to give any indication of calming.

Result; the reaction was too late. 4 citizens lost their life on that day, among a young student of 13 years old who got carried by the flood, her body was found 3 hours later by courageous folks of the locality.To this day many people, rightly, think twice or even thrice before venturing out in dire weather, you can replace a day you lost at school or work, but how to replace a life?

Back to 2015. The question remains, should employees attend work when a cyclone warning Class 2 is enforced? First we need to understand the parameters of a warning class 2.

According to the Mauritius Meteorological Station in Vacoas a Cyclone Warning Class 2 is I quote "Issued so as to allow, as far as practicable, 12 hours of daylight before the occurrence of gusts of 120 km/h".

Wait a minute, if I understood it well, nothing is said about rain. So basically, if a cyclone is nearing Mauritius with winds of less than 120 km/hr but with abundant rain (enough to cause a flood!) it will still be Class 2. How much sense does this make? Many people prefer not to base themselves on a Class 2 to avoid going to work. However, we should name a spade a spade, there are times, yes the weather is clement even in a class 2 or even 3, we have seen it, we have been there, but its not applicable all the times.
A company must have the flexibility to analyse the different factors that is specific to them instead of blindly using a rhetoric whose parameters can prove misleading and cause harm to employees. A few points that you should definitely ponder upon before deciding :

1) Are there floods or possible floods in certain region of the country now or in the next 4-5 hours? Have it rained continuously for the last 24 hours?

2) Does Employees need to travel a lot to come to work? How sensible will it be to ask someone who need to change 2-3 bus to come? or else if they all live nearby what the fuss about?

3) Can employees work from home on this specific day? (Ha! am writing this blog from home)

4) Will employees be really focussed on work when we all know that some people take cyclones to be hobbies. Will employees be productive? Right now schools are closed and parents are at work, how easy it is for them to find someone to look after their kid to prevent them to be on their own at home?

5) If there is a communiquer from the Government asking the release of employees to home due to a subsequent accumulation of water, will you be able to make sure that all employees will be able to get back home safe?

Working or not during torrential rain or a Cyclone Warning Class Two should remain at the discretion of the administration of the company to decide, based on their own specificity and reports obtained from national agencies. A mistake could prove to be very costly. Its better to have your employees safe and sound rather than make them rush back home in a flood-provocative weather. You will not even miss the day off, am sure they will gladly catch up for the work and be more considerate for the day they were able to spend with their family. While managing a company, having administration skills is not always enough one should at time be able to be a psychologist as well, a human being who sees his employees as his biggest assets to be protected.

Even if the Government gives the green-light for work, we have seen that they have often been wrong which resulted in loss of lives, so base yourself on your own judgment: if you would not have wanted to be at work in such weather, so will your employees so just call it a day off. Nevertheless it is true to say that many will tend to abuse of it, or even to indirectly pressurize the management to call an off day. Lets face it, we do not all have ideal employees, not everyone is as dedicated as they ought be. It remains at the discretion of the decision taker to evaluate if there are employees who will simply jump at the occasion even if the company is at a phase where it is important for everybody to be there. It is not your sole responsibility to make sure that the employees are being fairly judged upon, the employees too should be reasonable and understanding, else the whole process and element of trust, falls apart. It’s is a double traffic process.
However, you need to show realism as well, if you feel objectively that people could come to work, that you would not for example mind take the bus from lets say Grand Baie to Rose Hill in that weather you feel that your employees won’t face troubles to come or go home, then call it a normal day then make it a normal day.

There is absolutely no reason to call it an off day when you know pertinently well that their won’t be any hurdles. The idea is not about giving off days here and there but remaining focussed on what is essential - a proper sense of judgment. If the weather is fine, conditions are favorable, there are no reason for your employees to want you to give an off day, it would not even make sense to neither of you. It is important to be able to cut the apple right in two halves, that's what is call being fair. And try to show that you are fair and you will get even more dedication from your employees because everyone respect those who are fair.

To work or not to work? - that is the question.


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Arshad Dewkunkhan is Editor at Mauritius Yellow Pages, aged 25, resident of Rose - Hill. Former student of the St Joseph college with a formal education at College and University in Business Side.   Arshad is an avide reader, manages several Social Media pages, a football fanatic and loves spending time by nature.  


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