COVID-19 Department of Employment and Labour Consolidated Directions

Occupational Health and Safety COVID-19 Workplace Directive

On 1 October 2020 the Department of Employment and Labour issued Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces to reduce to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections as more employees are returning to work.

Employers are required to familiarize themselves with the Directions and obtain the necessary legal advice. Click  here   to access (“the Directions”). Or can be downloaded below.

The Directions place additional, more stringent requirements on employers. The following are the examples of some of the requirements:

  1. Employers are required to undertake a risk assessment, develop a plan outlining the protective measures in place for the phased return of employees and consult with any representative Union in respect of both the risk assessment and the plan. It is an open question whether Unions have provided support on this issue and whether they are sufficiently focused on it. In view of the legal obligations employers should not allow Unions to delay obligatory responses.
  2. Employers with more than 50 employees should submit both their risk assessment and a written policy to the Department of Labour within the 21 days of the commencement of the Direction.
  3. Employers should work at minimizing the number of workers at the workplace by utilizing shift systems, remote working or similar arrangements and must submit a weekly report to the National Institute for Occupational Health setting out inter alia the details on screening of employees who are symptomatic and post-infection outcomes, which includes a return to work assessment outcome.
  4. There is a change in notification requirements in circumstances where an employee has been diagnosed with Covid-19. Employers are required to notify both the National Institute for Occupational Health and the Compensation Commissioner and thereafter determine the need to temporarily close the affected work area for decontamination. The Directions have reduced the mandatory isolation period to 10 days.
  5. In case of employees refusing to work in view of a perceived imminent and serious risk of exposure to Covid-19, an employer is required to implement a procedure to attempt to resolve the dispute internally. If the matter cannot be resolved internally there should be a notification to the provincial inspector within 24 hours.

 

For assistance on the risk assessment, plan and policy you can contact

Ms Tanya Mulligan
Partner: Employment Law & Benefits,
Industrial Relations and Discrimination
076 981 8859

Mr Neil Coetzer 
Partner: Employment Law & Benefits,
Industrial Relations and Discrimination
072 280 1699