All persons who are able to work from home must do so. However, persons will be permitted to travel to and from work and for work purposes under Alert Level 3, subject to-
- strict compliance with health protocols and social distancing measures;
- the return to work being phased-in in order to put in place measures to make the workplace COVID-19 ready
In terms of the regulations, employers who will be reopening their businesses in terms of Alert Level 3 will be required to do the following:
- appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer,
- undertake a risk assessment of the workplace,
- and develop a plan for the return to work.
- This must be done before re-opening their businesses – in consultation with representative trade unions and health and safety committees.
Key changes are:
- The obligations of employers to employees who have comorbidities, or are over 60 years of age, have been clarified because of medical evidence that they are more vulnerable to COVID19 complications or death.
- Workers who have had close contact involving a high risk of transmission with a worker – or workers – diagnosed with COVID-19 must be placed on 14 days quarantine with paid sick leave. Department of Health guidelines set out the procedure for assessing the risk of transmission.
- The requirements that all persons must wear masks in the workplace and that each employee must be given, free of charge, at least two masks are retained. The requirement to wash masks at work has been removed after feedback from trade unions.
- Employees have a right to refuse to work if they have a reasonable belief that the necessary precautions have not been put in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Where such disputes arise, employers should seek to resolve these as quickly as possible. If the dispute leads to a dismissal or other unfair labour practice, these cases may be referred to the CCMA (Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.)
- Employers may not deduct the cost of Covid-19 precautions from employees’ wages or require them to pay for these.
- These draft amendments to existing directives, will be finalised and published, upon approval.