LOCKDOWN LEVEL 3 REVISITED: EMPLOYERS’ DO’S AND DON’TS
In an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, during the so called “second wave” of infections, on 28 December 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a move to adjusted Alert Level 3, which came into effect immediately.
The announcement was made as South Africa breached the one million mark of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and on the back of the recently identified variant (the 501 V2 variant), which is believed to be more contagious than the virus that was present in the first wave of infections.
THE QUESTION ARISES: WHAT DOES THE MOVE BACK TO ALERT LEVEL 3 OF THE LOCKDOWN MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?
Employer’s must take note of the fact that their Covid-19 Workplace Plans must be updated to comply with the new regulations. The obligations for employers are briefly summarised herein below.
- Employees who are able to perform their duties remotely (at their place of residence) must do so.
- The wearing of a face mask at the workplace/business is mandatory. Employers may not allow any employee to perform his/her duties or any employee/customer to enter the place of business if such an individual is not wearing a face mask.
- The return of employees to work must be phased-in in order to put in place measures to make the workplace COVID -19 ready.
- Based on the square meters of a business, employers must determine the number of customers and/or employees permitted inside the premises at any time to provide for the one and a half meters social distancing rule.
- Every business is subject to a limitation of 50% of the floor space, inclusive of employees and customers.
- All employers must, adopt measures to promote physical distancing of employees which includes:
- Enabling employees to work from home or minimising the need for employees to be physically present at the workplace.
- Restrictions on face-to-face meetings.
- Special measures should be adopted for employees with known or disclosed health issues or comorbidities, or with any condition which may place such employees at a higher risk of complications or death if they are infected with COVID-19.
- Special measures should be put in place for employees above the age of 60 who are at a higher risk of complications or death if they are infected with COVID -19
- Employers must take steps to ensure that persons queuing inside or outside of the business premises are able to maintain a distance of one and a half meters from one another.
- Employers must provide hand sanitizers for use by the public, where applicable, and employees at the entrance to the business premises.
- All employers/business owners (whether in the private or public sector) must appoint, in writing, an employee, or any other suitable person, as the compliance officer, which compliance officer must:
- Ensure compliance with the employer’s obligations.
- Ensure that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure to persons with COVID-19 are adhered to.
- Develop a plan containing measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols.
- Retain a copy of the plan for inspection.
- The compliance officer’s name should be prominently displayed at the business/workplace.
- An employer who operates any indoor/outdoor facility, where gatherings are held, must display the certificate of occupancy setting out the maximum number of persons permitted in the facility.
- Employers must bear in mind that a Workplace Plan should be implemented, the contents of which are briefly summarised below.
- The Plan should include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Detail of the hours of operation at the workplace/business.
- Contain measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols.
- Contain measures to ensure that there is adequate space and social distancing measures for employees/members of the pubic/service providers.
- Contain a list of employees falling under the categories of:
- Employees who are able to work remotely.
- Employees who are 60 years of age and older who are required to stay at home and/or work from home.
- Employees with comorbidities who will be required to stay at home and/or work from home.
- Detail the steps taken by the employer in ensuring that the workplace is COVID-19 compliant, e.g. social distancing measures, what sanitary facilities are provided, screening facilities and what systems are implemented in the event of a suspected case of COVID-19 in the workplace etc.
- Detail employee rotational arrangements and/or details of the procedure for establishments where fewer than 100% of employees will be permitted to work.
- A copy of the plan should be retained for inspection, and should further provide the details of the COVID-19 Compliance Officer.
- Every person is confined to his/her place of residence between 21h00 and 06h00 daily, however, employees are permitted to travel to and from work in order to fulfil their duties subject to strict adherence to health protocols, and social distancing measures.
- Gatherings at the following places are restricted as indicated, subject to regulations:
- Cinemas and theatres – limited to 50 persons or less for indoor venues and 100 persons for outdoor venues.
- Casinos – limited to 50 persons or less for indoor venues and 100 persons or less for outdoor venues.
- Museums/Galleries/Libraries – 50 persons or less.
- Hotels/Lodges/Bed and Breakfasts – full capacity, subject to adherence to social distancing.
- Auctions – limited to 50 persons or less for indoor venues and 100 persons or less for outdoor venues.
- Places closed to the public include, but are not limited to:
- Night clubs;
- Swimming pools
- Public Parks
- The sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol is prohibited, whether for on-site or off-site consumption.
The contents of this article are for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice please contact our offices.