work employers lockdown

Photo: Adobe Stock

Back to work: 11 major changes employers must make before reopening

Employers are gearing up for their first day back since lockdown began. Thousands return to work on Monday, but businesses must meet these requirements.

work employers lockdown

Photo: Adobe Stock

As South Africa moves through its lockdown levels, attention has now turned the businesses that can get back to work. On Monday, thousands of workers will be returning to the grindstone for the first time in over five weeks – but employers have been issued with a stark warning over the weekend.

What employers must do before reopening their businesses

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi addressed the media on Sunday afternoon. He made it very clear, in uncompromising terms, that businesses have to treat any potential reopening protocols with kid gloves. A list of directives were shared, explaining everything management must implement to keep workers safe from the threat of this health crisis. Those interventions include the following:

  • Workplaces must notify workers of how new regulations will be undertaken.
  • Businesses must grant paid sick leave to employees showing symptoms of this killer disease.
  • A representative of the workers must be assigned to relay concerns to management and educate employees on illness prevention.
  • Workers must be given an avenue to communicate concerns, risks, and possible infections to the employee.
  • All workspaces must be well-sanitised, and well ventilated.
  • Employees must be given at least two washable cloth masks and other industry-specific PPE.
  • Employers must notify the Health Department about any new cases of the disease, and minimise the number of workers on site.
  • All staff must be 1.5 metres apart from each other.
  • Employees must be screened for fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes, loss of smell, body aches, and tiredness.
  • Management must provide sufficient quantities of sanitiser with 70% alcohol in them.
  • Finally, common areas and shared equipment must be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Back to work

Nxesi said he was well aware of the challenge that’s confronting his department. There are roughly two million registered businesses in South Africa, and the minister conceded they couldn’t directly enforce change in every workspace. They are relying on “the goodwill of employers” to play their part in fighting this unprecedented battle:

“Labour inspectors are encouraged to enforce these measures. Any employer who doesn’t follow these directives can be forced to close their business. In some cases, failure to adhere to these regulations will be subject to criminal prosecution.”

“More than 2 200 inspections have been conducted during lockdown. I am informed that basic measures and PPE’s are evident in most workplaces. It’s impossible to inspect our 1.9 million registered businesses; we are relying on the goodwill of employers.”

Thulas Nxesi