COVID-19 workplace policies

18 January 2021

RETURN2WORK: Safe Back to Work Campaign

As part of the Return2Work Initiative, the Return2Work team have added to the resources developed to assist employers in halting the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces amidst the second wave of the pandemic.  The Return2Work Initiative offers businesses, employers and employees clear and simple step by step guidance on re-opening and staying open, incorporating the key legal requirements and tools to minimise infection and maximise compliance.

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26 August 2020

GUIDELINE ON COVID-19 HEALTH DATA FROM THE WORKPLACE

Interventions at workplaces and work activities will assist in a reduction of transmission of COVID-19 infections. These interventions can appropriately be directed by the data emerging from workplaces about the unfolding pandemic.

The objectives of this Guideline (Guideline on the submission of COVID-19 related health data from workplaces to the National Department of Health) is to effectively collect, collate and analyse workplace data on clinical (symptom) screening, vulnerable employees, COVID-19 infections and contacts to prevent further escalation of the pandemic and to provide clarity to the relevant stakeholders about the data and data reporting process as outlined in the above legislation, and to streamline the reporting tasks of employers.

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13 August 2020

GUIDELINES FOR SYMPTOM MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT OF WORKERS FOR SARS-COV-2 INFECTION

The National Department of Health has issued the updated guidelines for the symptom monitoring and management of workers for COVID-19 infection (August 2020).

What is new in this version?

  1. Reference to essential workers has been removed such that the guideline will apply to all workers covered by the Department of Employment and Labour Directive dated 4 June 2020.
  2. Revised definition of a suspected COVID-19 case as outlined in National Department of Health guideline on Clinical management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 disease Version 4 (25 May 2020), which removed fever as a key symptom, and replaced this with loss of smell or loss of taste.
  3. Management of asymptomatic worker with high exposure risk and decision on return to work originally referred to workers in the essential services. This now applies to all workers, and reflects the revised stipulated period of isolation, with a different stipulation for health workers.

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07 August 2020

The Updated Employment Equity Amendment Bill

Due to the pressures faced by the Government to drive real and sustained transformation in the country, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill was introduced into Parliament on 21 July 2020. The Bill is significant as designated employers would have to comply with race, gender and disability targets set per sector, or sub-sector, by the Minister of Labour. Within the Bill, Numerical goals otherwise referred to as sector targets) will be set by the Minister and parties will have 30 days to comment from when the targets are gazetted.

Employers who don’t comply will be subject to undertakings issued by the court and should these undertakings not be implemented (non-compliance), then these employers may be subject to fines. It is important to note that the Minister has no obligation to consult or receive agreement from a sector. While the establishment of these targets is likely to be a time-consuming process and perhaps will not be a priority while the pandemic persists, we encourage members to be on the look our for publication of the numerical goals.

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31 July 2020

DIRECTIVE ON COMPENSATION FOR WORKPLACE ACQUIRED COVID-19

This new directive, which is already in effect, provide employers and medical service providers with the stipulate prescripts when submitting claims and supporting medical reports for COVID-19. These reports submitted through CompEasy or Mutual Association claims system, require the medical service provider to use the emergency COVID-19 ICD-10 code: U07.1.

The directive deals with workplace-acquired COVID-19 resulting from work-related exposure, exposure to suspected or confirmed cases(s) of COVID-19 in the workplace; or while travelling on an official trip to high-risk countries or areas on work assignment or while performing any duty in pursuance of the employer’s business.

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27 July 2020

COIDA DIRECTIVE AS ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR

Compensation fund records rising claims as a result of COVID-19 infections

A total of 2361 claims have been lodged for compensation with regard to being exposed to COVID-19 at work. Of these, 1412 have been lodged directly with the Compensation Fund (CF) while 900 were lodged with Rand Mutual and 49 with Federated Employees.

Of those lodged directly with CF, the highest number of claimants come from Western Cape with 1068 claims. Liability has been accepted for a total of 590 cases, 115 repudiated, 363 are pending adjudication.
The second highest province with regard to claimants is Eastern Cape with 160 claims of which 78 have been accepted, 4 repudiated and 78 are pending adjudication.

The province of Kwa-Zulu Natal has the third-highest number of claims at 108. A total of 67 have been accepted, 7 repudiated and 34 await adjudication. Gauteng is next with 54 claims of which 31 have been accepted while 7 were repudiated and 16 await adjudication.

From Mpumalanga, 17 claims have been received. A total of 13 have been accepted, 1 repudiated and 3 await adjudication. Limpopo has lodged 3 claims, one has been accepted and 2 repudiated while the North West has logged 2 cases, one has been repudiated and one awaits adjudication.

In overall terms, of all claims received directly by CF, 55% have been accepted, 9.7% have been rejected and 35.1% are pending adjudication. “It is important to note that when we say the claim has been repudiated, this could change if we are given more information about the particular claim. This then should not be read as having had the door slammed in the face of the claimants.

“Where we accept the claim, this means that we have accepted the claim as a valid occupational injury or disease and we accept responsibility for the costs related to the claim (medical aid costs and disability costs). Those awaiting adjudication means the claims have been received but no decision has been made on the claim due to outstanding information or claim has not been attended to as yet,” says Vuyo Mafata, the Commissioner of the Compensation Fund

As part of its stated commitment to in dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, the Fund:

  • Pays out for temporary disablement while the worker is in quarantine, self-isolation or hospitalized;
  • pays medical expenses; and
  • where, tragically, the illness results in fatality the Fund will pay out survivor benefits to dependents in the form of a monthly pension and funeral benefit.
  • In addition, during the lockdown the Fund boasts:
    • Over 20,000 claims registered in CompEasy by employers;
    • 146,000 medical invoices processed;
    • R 921 million was paid to healthcare practitioners for the period 01 April 2020 to 13 July 2020;
    • R15 million was paid in total temporary disablement benefits to beneficiaries; and
    • R276 million was paid to the 24,000 pension beneficiaries of the Fund.

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13 July 2020

Reporting of COVID cases HPC report to NICD

There are a number of mandatory reports that must be made in all COVID cases in workplaces, covering employees and non-employees. The patient’s doctor would report the COVID-19 case to the NICD (NMCsurveillanceReport@nicd.ac.za), using the prescribed forms.
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13 July 2020

Reporting of COVID cases and contacts of COVID cases

There are a number of mandatory reports that must be made in all COVID cases in workplaces, covering employees and non-employees. The employer must undertake contact tracing, and, using the Template COVID-19 contact Line list, report this to ncov@nicd.ac.za.

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13 July 2020

Reporting COVID Absences to the Department of Employment and Labour

Reporting to the Department of Employment and Labour must be done for all occupational illnesses resulting in absences of 14 days or more, using form W.Cl.1.
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08 July 2020

CONTACT TRACING IN THE WORKPLACE

The National Health Laboratory Service, the National Institute for Occupational Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases have published a guidance on contact tracing in the workplace. This includes:

  • When contact tracing should be initiated
  • Contact identification at work, and
  • Confidentiality considerations

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09 June 2020

PREVENTING AND MANAGING CORONAVIRUS INFECTION IN THE WORKPLACE

The Western Cape Provincial Government has put together a guidance document on the prevention of coronavirus spread in the workplace and the issues to address when dealing with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infected employees.
The document contains three sections:

  • The first section provides background on how the coronavirus is spread and what can be done to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • The second section provides advice on what to do, should someone in the workplace become infected with the coronavirus.
  • The third section provides additional guidance to specific sectors with regards to preventing coronavirus infection.

For any further queries please contact Dr Gavin Reagon on Gavin.Reagon@westerncape.gov.za

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08 June 2020

CONSOLIDATED COVID-19 DIRECTION ON HEALTH & SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE

On 17 March 2020, the Department of Employment and Labour issued guidelines for employers to deal with COVID-19 at workplaces. In the period since the issuing of the guidelines, a clearer picture has emerged about COVID -19 and the nature of the hazard and risk in the workplace and the precautions that should be taken to minimise the risk.

The purpose of these directions is to stipulate measures that must be taken by employers in order to
protect the health and safety of workers and members of the public who enter their workplaces or are exposed to their working activities. These directions give effect to those Regulations and seek to ensure that the measures taken by employers under OHSA are consistent with the overall national strategies and policies to minimise the spread of COVID -19.

This Direction is based on infection transmission prevention and specific occupational hygiene practices that focus on the need for employers to implement measures to mitigate or eliminate the transmission of the virus in the workplace. This Direction recognises that there are sector-specific measures that need to be taken into account and accordingly provides for sector guidelines to supplement this Direction.

This Direction does not reduce the existing obligations of the employer in terms of OHSA nor prevent an employer from implementing measures that are more stringent in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

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19 May 2020

GUIDANCE NOTE FOR WORKPLACES IN THE EVENT OF IDENTIFICATION OF A COVID-19 POSITIVE EMPLOYEE

This guidance note outlines some key aspects in relation to COVID-19 that need to be considered by the workplace health and safety regulator, employers and employees should a worker become diagnosed as COVID-19 disease. The following issues need to be addressed in dealing with the identification and management of a COVID-19 positive worker. These procedures must be read in conjunction with other relevant/updated guidelines or regulations from the National Department of Health and the Departments of Employment and Labour, Mineral Resources and Energy, and Public Service and Administration.

This guidance covers:

  • Personal health procedures
  • Public health communicable disease procedure
  • Infection prevention and control procedures
  • Workplace related occupational health and safety procedures
  • Labour related procedures
  • Incident reporting and engagement with relative Regulator
  • Leave and work’s compensation arrangements

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13 May 2020

CEE Letter to designated employers on the impact of COVID-19

The Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) recognises the catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 on the various sectors of the economy and acknowledges the fact that it will be business will be exploring various COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plans with regard to Business Continuity.

In response to the inevitable consequences of the COVID-19 on organisations and in particular, on the implementation of employment equity in the various workplaces, the CEE request all designated employers to take into account the following guidelines:

  1. All employers are reminded that they are still legally obligated to comply with all the provisions of all employment laws during their organisational restructuring/ configuration processes to ensure that there is no unfair treatment and unfair discrimination policies and practices against all employees.
  2. All designated employers are requested to strive not to reverse the previously attained transformation gains, including to where reasonably practical, achieve their initially planned annual EE targets for 2020. In instances that it is practically not possible to maintain and achieve the initially planned EE targets, the employers may consider reviewing and amending their EE Plans in consultation with the EE Consultative Forums (Sections 16)
  3. All designated employers are still required to submit their annual EE Reports as prescribed by Section 21 of the EEA and the EE Regulations, 2014 from 1 September 2020 until 15 January 2021. This EE data is critical in assessing the impact of the COVID-19 on the transformation agenda of the labour market and society as a whole. There is no legal provision for exemptions, condonations or appeals in the EEA for submission of EE Reports.
  4. However, in instances where the designated employer is unable to submit an EE Report as per Section 21 of the EEA, such an employer must notify the Director-General of Department of Employment and Labour in writing with reasons before the last working day of August of 2020 as prescribed by Section 21(4A) of the EE Amendment Act, 2013 and the EEA14 form in the EE Regulations, 2014. The reasons that can be advanced as per the EEA14 form, include Section 197 of the LRA; Mergers/ Acquisitions; Labour Court Order; Liquidations/ Judicial Winding; Insolvency; and Other reasons (e.g. employer no longer designated because of size and/ turnover, or company closed down because of retrenchments, or company under business rescue, etc.).

All completed EEA14 forms must be accompanied by supporting documents as proof and must be emailed to ntsoaki.mamashela@labour.gov.za; lucia.rayner@labour.gov.za; tshililo.siobo@labour.gov.za; before the last working day of August 2020. Guidelines on how to process DG Notifications and the EEA14 form are available on www.labour.gov.za

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04 May 2020

Risk assessment and management tool

– a planning tool to aid a company to assess their COVID-19 related risks (tab 1) and then put in place plans and controls to mitigate those risks (tab 2). Note that this should be done with the workplace occupational health and safety committee, if applicable.

Note, these documents seek to incorporate all the relevant official requirements but do not replace the law. If a business has already assessed its occupational health and safety risks and put in place a plan, the business need not use these tools. The material is provided for guidance in the absence of the business having a process and plan in place, or as an additional reference to ensure that all-important risk factors and control measures are considered. It is important to remind all businesses to keep their occupational health and safety records, and risk management approach available in the event that it is required for reporting or compliance purposes.

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04 May 2020

CEO declaration template

– confirmation that the employer has completed the required procedures and planning processes to safely resume operations at level 4 lockdown.

Note, these documents seek to incorporate all the relevant official requirements but do not replace the law. If a business has already assessed its occupational health and safety risks and put in place a plan, the business need not use these tools. The material is provided for guidance in the absence of the business having a process and plan in place, or as an additional reference to ensure that all-important risk factors and control measures are considered. It is important to remind all businesses to keep their occupational health and safety records, and risk management approach available in the event that it is required for reporting or compliance purposes.

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04 May 2020

Workplace readiness practice note

– provides minimum practice guidelines for all employers to resume operations safely and minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission to workers.

Note, these documents seek to incorporate all the relevant official requirements but do not replace the law. If a business has already assessed its occupational health and safety risks and put in place a plan, the business need not use these tools. The material is provided for guidance in the absence of the business having a process and plan in place, or as an additional reference to ensure that all-important risk factors and control measures are considered. It is important to remind all businesses to keep their occupational health and safety records, and risk management approach available in the event that it is required for reporting or compliance purposes.

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17 April 2020

Guidance for the symptomatic monitoring and management of essential staff with COVID-19 related illness

Over the past few weeks, SAMED has received a few queries on how to manage staff who are suspected of having or have already contracted COVID-19. Please note that this is an interim guide that may be updated as the outbreak in South Africa intensifies, to guide additional workforce preserving strategies. The aim of this guideline is to enable:

  1. Early and timeous identification and diagnosis of workers at risk of COVID-19 infection
  2. Early referral for appropriate treatment, care and timeous return to work of affected workers
  3. The protection of other unaffected workers, consumers, visitors and clients of these groups of workers

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14 April 2020

Amended Department of Labour COVID-19 TERS Directive

On 8 April 2020, The Minister of Employment and Labour issued out the Amended COVID-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme directive.

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14 April 2020

Department of Labour COVID-19 TERS Directive

On 26 March 2020, The Minister of Employment and Labour issued out a directive that determined that it is necessary to implement steps through the Covid19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme to prevent an escalation of the COVID -19 infections funded through the National Disaster Benefit. The purpose of this Directive is to make provision for the:

  1. Payment of benefits to the Contributors who have lost income due to the COVID -19 pandemic
  2. Minimise economic impact of loss of employment because of the pandemic
  3. Avoid contact and contain the spread of COVID -19 during the process of application for benefit
  4. Establish the Temporary Employee /Employer Relief Scheme and set out the application process for benefits of the COVID -19 pandemic.

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01 April 2020

Environmental Health Guidelines

Environmental Health Guidelines
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27 March 2020

Directive on COVID-19: implications on BCEA leave provision

South Africa is under lockdown and this will force many employees to stay away from work. All employees in South Africa as a condition of their employment are entitled to leave provisions as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). During the lockdown period, an employee may be requested by the employer to take annual leave from his/her annual leave credits. The BCEA allows employers to determine the time that employees can take their annual leave.
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24 March 2020

WHO Workplace Readiness Guidance Part 2

WHO Workplace Readiness Guidance Part 2
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24 March 2020

WHO Workplace Readiness Guidance Part 1

WHO Workplace Readiness Guidance Part 1
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24 March 2020

Urgent Directive From The Director Of The CCMA In Respect Of The Response To Covid 19

Urgent Directive From The Director Of The CCMA In Respect Of The Response To Covid 19
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24 March 2020

Notice on compensation for Occupationally acuired corona virus under COIDA Amended Act

Notice on compensation for Occupationally acuired corona virus under COIDA Amended Act
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24 March 2020

Coronavirus – A Practical Guide for Employers

Coronavirus – A Practical Guide for Employers
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24 March 2020

Coronavirus easy aid UIF

Coronavirus easy aid UIF
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24 March 2020

The Department of Employment and Labour – Workplace Preparedness

To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for all employers to plan now for COVID-19. For employers who have already planned for influenza outbreaks involving many staff members, planning for COVID-19 may involve updating plans to address the specific exposure risks, sources of exposure, routes of transmission, and other unique characteristics of SARS-CoV-2.

Employers who have not prepared for pandemic events should prepare themselves and their workers as far in advance as possible of potentially worsening outbreak conditions. Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of COVID-19 with insufficient resources and workers who might not be adequately trained for jobs they may have to perform under pandemic conditions.

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