Employment rights in coronavirus era

The EOHCB (Employers Organisation for Hairdressing Cosmetology and Beauty) has released information detailing employment rights as they pertain to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We have highlighted a few points below but for more detailed information please click here

https://www.eohcb.co.za/articles

 

States the EOHCB: “On 15 March 2020, the President of the Republic of South Africa declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. Various measures have been put in place by government through consultation to manage the disease, protect the people of South Africa and to reduce the impact of the virus on society and the economy. Employers are urged to have an integrated and coordinated disaster management mechanism in place that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus within the workplace.” 

 

In terms of COVID-19 practical arrangements, the Minister of Employment and Labour announced on 16 March 2020 at a special Nedlac executive committee meeting the following:

 

1. Health and safety risk assessments need to be conducted in all workplaces. Guidelines and checklists in this regard will be made available on www.labour.gov.za 

 

2. Employers are expected to implement extremely strict hygiene provisions (facilities for handwashing are imperative).

 

3. If an employee needs to self-isolate due to international travel or exposure to an infected individual, such self-isolation period will be compensated by the UIF as special leave.

 

4. If a business needs to close due to potential exposure, UIF will send officials to workplaces to assist with registering the UIF claims of employees.

 

5. There will be interventions available to businesses that become distressed due to COVID-19. These will be made available by Treasury (no details available yet).

 

6. Employees who contract the virus during their employment will have a claim in terms of COIDA.

 

Impact of COVID-19 in the workplace

 

In terms of leave, labour legislation does not make provision for emergency sick or annual leave for instances such as the present COVID-19. Any absence from the workplace without permission must however still be justified by the employee by means of a valid medical certificate in the event that the employee has been absent from work for 1 day or more. 

 

Employees should be encouraged to disclose general symptoms of a cold or flu to management without any delay. Such employees will be required to stay at home until such time they are fit to return to work. They will however be required to justify their absence by means of a valid medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner. Should the employee be able to justify absence from work by means of such a certificate, the period of absence will be paid by the Sick Pay Fund of the National Bargaining Council for Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty and Skincare and the rules of the Sick Pay Fund shall remain. Should the employee not have sufficient sick leave available, such absence will be without any remuneration or benefits, unless annual leave is available for payment purposes or if otherwise decided by the employer. 

 

Incapacity proceedings for employees that are infected by the virus is not recommended. The COVID-19 is a temporary medical condition with the employee most probably being able to return to the workplace later, fit for normal duty. 

 

Where it is impossible to continue with normal business activities, employers will be required to temporary lay-off employees by implementing short-time. As prescribed in the main collective agreement under clause 20, an employer who elects to implement short-time must notify in writing all employees concerned and give at least 1 weeks’ notice thereof. An employee who is not given the specified notice is entitled to payment of full wages in lieu of notice. Annual leave shall accrue at the full rate of entitlement during any period that an employee is required to work short time. 

 

Short-time is defined as the implementation of reduced working time i.e. a lesser number of hours per day or lesser number of days per week that may be brought about as a result of an employer being unable to conduct business activities of an establishment due to unforeseen circumstance, other than operational requirements within the meaning of section 189 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The unforeseen circumstances include the closure of establishments due to forced quarantine requirements due to the COVID-19.

 

For more information re the above as well as the conditions for sick leave pay, please click here https://www.eohcb.co.za/articles

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