On 15 August 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa, announced the country’s progress in the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic after five months since he declared a national state of disaster.
The announcement entailed that the entire country would be placed on Alert Level 2 with effect from midnight on Monday, 17th August 2020. All of the restrictions on the resumption of economic activity across most industries have been removed.
The new normal is the new reality. In light hereof the need to adhere to COVID-19 protocols has become increasingly important.
The following points are important for employers in order to navigate through Alert Level 2:
- The wearing of a face mask remains mandatory for all employees.
- Businesses may operate except for specific economic exclusions such as night clubs.
- All persons who are able to work from home must do so. Employees are permitted to perform any type of work outside their home, and to travel to and from work save for specific economic exclusions.
- The national curfew shall remain in place between 22:00 PM to 4:00 AM. Employees that will be required to work post 22:00 PM, must be issued with permits.
- Vulnerable employees such as employees over the age of 60 years or those with co-morbidities must be accommodated to facilitate their return to work or to continue working from home. Vulnerable employees must be afforded an opportunity to provide reasons as to why they are not in a position to return to the workplace.
- Construction, manufacturing and financial services firms with more than 500 employees must adhere to the appropriate sector or workplace arrangements or compacts to address:
- The provision of transport;
- Daily screening of employees for symptoms of COVID-19; and
- Submission of data collected during the screening and testing process to the Director-General
- Reasonable measures must be developed to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols, adequate space for employees and social distancing measures.
- Every employer is required to still designate a COVID-19 Compliance officer who must oversee the implementation and strict adherence of the internal health protocols in the workplace. It is advisable to appoint Compliance officers where employees are required to travel in groups and expected to work from a client’s facility.
- Gatherings at the workplace are permitted subject to the wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing and keeping the limit of 50 persons.
- Persons who hinder, interfere or obstruct an Enforcement Officer designated by the Department of Employment and Labour may be liable to a fine or imprisonment.
Employers are advised to notify employees to main strict adherence
to their internal health protocols as failure to do so may increase the risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Disciplinary codes and policies must also be updated in line with the rise of the new normal.