face masks

Face masks mandates could be reinstated in the workplace, claims a legal expert.
Image via Pixabay

Masks ‘have fallen’…but employers can force you to put them back on

A legal expert warned that employers have the prerogative to impose the wearing of face masks in the workplace…

face masks

Face masks mandates could be reinstated in the workplace, claims a legal expert.
Image via Pixabay

The wearing of face masks indoors has officially become null and void following the Department of Health’s decision to repeal the last remaining COVID-19 restrictions

This came into effect on Thursday 23 June, two months after South Africa’s state of disaster ended.

But before you throw your masks in the bin, a legal expert is warning that this may not necessarily apply to the workplace


According to Sibusiso Dube, of law firm Bowmans, employees have the grounds to impose a mask mandate in the workplace.

He told Business Tech: “Although there is no requirement in law for employers to impose the wearing of face masks in the workplace, nothing precludes employers from implementing policies that require employees to continue wearing them while at work.

“The setting of rules and standards for the workplace remains the prerogative of an employer and, provided that such rules are valid and reasonable, courts will not interfere.”

Dube claimed that if employers reinstated face masks at the workplace, they should communicate this to their employees “as soon as possible”.

He added: “Employers are advised to notify their employees of the requirements for their workplaces, including that the decision to wear a mask or not is a decision that each employee can make for themselves, as soon as possible.”

Employees may enforce the wearing of masks if the following stipulations are met, claims Dube

  • The employer has the authority to enforce rules as per the employment contract;
  • The rule falls in line with  statutes or regulations
  • If the rule is reasonably required for the efficient, orderly, and safe conduct of the business.

He added: “If an employer is able to satisfy the requirements above, based on the prevailing circumstances at its workplace, then the rule will be found to be valid if challenged by an employee. Non-compliance with such a rule may attract sanctions”.


Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education stated that face masks would remain optional in schools for both students and teachers.

Minister Angie Motshekga said in a statement on Thursday: “In line with this decision to repeal the regulations, wearing of face masks by learners in classrooms, and indoor gatherings is no longer a requirement. Those learners and staff who wish to continue to wear a face mask in schools will be allowed to exercise this option”.