ADJUSTED ALERT LEVEL 3: OBLIGATIONS OF THE EMPLOYER
President Ramaphosa in his address to the nation on 25 July 2021, said that South Africa has largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections. The President announced that the country would move to Adjusted Alert Level 3, which sees the easing of certain restrictions.
In accordance with the Regulations issued on 25 July 2021, the obligations for employers are briefly summarised below.
- The curfew remains in place, and every person is confined to their homes between 22h00 and 04h00, unless such a person is permitted to perform a service as stipulated in the regulations and has been issued with a valid permit in terms of the regulations.
- The following establishments must close at 21h00:
- Museums, galleries and archives
- Public swimming pools
- Beaches, public parks, game parks, botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos
- Gyms / fitness centres
- Restaurants, bars, shebeens and taverns
- Auction venues
- Venues hosting professional sports
- Places of faith-based / religious gatherings
- Social, political and cultural gatherings
- Restaurants, bars, shebeens, taverns, conferencing, exhibitions, dining and entertainment facilities are permitted to trade, subject to a limitation of a maximum of 50 persons or less for indoor venues, and 100 persons or less for outdoor venues.
- Where a venue is too small to comply with the above, no more than 50% of the venue may be utilized.
- Employers must permit employees who are able to perform their duties remotely (at their place of residence) to do so.
- The wearing of a face mask at the workplace/business, in open spaces and in all public buildings and in all public vehicles, 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.
- Failure to comply with the wearing of a face mask constitutes a criminal offence.
- Employers are required to comply with sector-specific health protocols, which may include, but is not limited to, work rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, etc.
- 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.
- 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.
- Restricting/minimising 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, inclusive of any individuals who are queuing at automated teller machines of a bank.
- Employers must provide hand sanitizers for use by the public, where applicable, and employees at the entrance to the business premises.
- All banks must ensure that each automated teller machine, whether located at their premises or at one of their branches, have hand sanitizers for use by the public.
- Businesses within the tourism industry (hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts etc.) are permitted to trade at full capacity of the available rooms for accommodation subject to the normal safety protocols, e.g. face masks, social distancing etc.
- 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’ Workplace Plan must remain in place and be implemented.
- A copy of the plan should be retained for inspection and should further provide the details of the COVID-19 Compliance Officer.
- Night clubs remain closed to the public.
- Visits by the public to detention facilities (e.g. prisons, police holding cells etc.) are permitted, subject to regulations.
- Travel in and out of Gauteng for leisure purposes is, once again, permitted.
- Funeral and cremation attendance remains limited to 50 persons or less in the event that a venue is too small to hold the stipulated number of persons.
- The sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is permitted from Monday to Thursday between the hours of 10h00 to 18h00.
- The sale of alcohol for on-site consumption is permitted until 20h00.
- Night vigils, and after funeral / cremation gatherings are not permitted.
- With reference to employers in the educational sector, schools will commence with the third term as from 26 July 2021
- The dates on which tertiary education institutions will re-open are yet to be determined.
LOOTING AND UNREST
ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The recent acts of looting and unrest, particularly in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, have resulted in a disruption of the economy of South Africa, at the very least. Apart from increasing the deployment of SAPS and SANDF personnel, President Ramaphosa announced measures aimed at supporting those individuals who have been affected by the violence, and which includes:
- The re-instatement of the Social Relief of Distress Grant of R350.00 per month up until 31 March 2022.
- Unemployed caregivers, who receive a Child Support Grant, are now eligible to apply for this grant.
- Businesses that are insured will be covered by the state-owned insurance company, SASRIA. (Government is working to extend support to uninsured businesses.)
- The COVID-19 TERS scheme has been extended for qualifying sectors, and applications are now open.
- The Employment Tax Incentive will be extended for a period of four months, and which includes any employee who earns below R6 500.00.
- The incentive amount will increase by up to R750.00 per month.
- The payment of PAYE taxes will be deferred for a period of three months.
- The payment of excise taxes by the alcohol sector will also be deferred for a period of three months.