The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major upheaval to the country’s economy. The capitalists of the country are used to having a profitable mindset and have felt a lot of discomfort at the change in workplace dynamics. So many employees across the country have been laid off because of the lockdowns and limited attendance norms in offices. Now as vaccines are about to roll out, the companies are becoming impatient to initiate business operations as before-pandemic time.
For this, India Inc. has proposed for utilization of their CSR funds for vaccinating their employees. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson of Biocon, proposed this in an exclusive interview with Moneycontrol, saying that this could possibly lessen the burden on the government, which is grappling to get a measure of the exact cost to vaccinate the entire country and getting the logistics and supply chain in place to administer the vaccine.
In addition to this, she said, “the private sector can support the government in logistics, given their vast experience in handling cold-chain products such as human insulins and other biologic drugs.”
The recommendation also came from FICCI and Ernst & Young in a report titled: ‘Protecting India: Public-Private Partnership for vaccinating against COVID-19’. In the report, the companies are also seeking freedom to choose their own vaccine after regulatory approvals are cleared, believing this would strengthen the public-private partnership in order to expedite the vaccination process.
Why Vaccinating the employees cannot be called as CSR.
As per the CSR law tabled by the parliament in the Companies Act, any activity that is done to benefit the company itself or its employees cannot be called as CSR. This was also reiterated by Dr Bhaskar Chatterjee, known as the father of CSR in India, in an exclusive interview with The CSR Journal.
If a company vaccinates its employees, it is directly beneficial to its operations as it can then demand its employees to go back to work in full capacity. The economic gains from this could in turn make up for the amount spent on vaccinating the employees in the first place. This is against the spirit as well as the definition of Corporate Social Responsibility.