South Africa will be under lockdown from midnight and this will force many employees to stay away from work.
All employees in South Africa as a condition of their employment are entitled to leave provisions as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
As such the BCEA recognises certain forms of leave, which may, depending on the circumstances, be applicable to the employees’ absence as a result of COVID-19.
In order to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on the 23rd of March 2020 that the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March, ending on April 16, 2020.
This will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act. During this period all employees, with the exception of a few categories, will have to stay at home. The effect of the three-week lockdown will most probably have a negative impact on employers and employees in South Africa.
All employees in South Africa as a condition of their employment are entitled to leave provisions as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The BCEA recognises certain forms of leave, which may, depending on the circumstances, be applicable to the employee’s absence as a result of COVID-19.
During the lockdown period, an employee may be requested by the employer to take annual leave from his/her annual leave credits. The BCEA allows employers to determine the time that employees can take their annual leave.
“In as much as employers are within their rights to insist that employees take annual leave during the lockdown, as the Department, we encourage employers not to request employees to utilise their annual leave credits for the lockdown, but to rather utilise the financial assistance that the department has placed at their disposal through the COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) in cases where companies cannot afford to pay employees”, said Department of Employment and Labour, Chief Director of Labour Relations Thembinkosi Mkalipi.
As South Africa prepares for the national lockdown as pronounced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 23rd of March 2020.
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In announcing the nation-wide lockdown, the President indicated that provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere. In line with this injunction, the Department of Transport announced measures which fell in line with the provision of public transport during Lockdown, while ensuring that its objective is achieved.
All long-distance passenger rail services, both public and private, will stop operations for the duration of the lockdown. Services of Shosholoza Meyl, Premier Classe and Blue Train operated by PRASA and Transnet respectively, have already been suspended. The new regulations mean that private rail operators such as Rovos Rail will also cease operations. All commuter rail services will shut down for the duration of the lockdown. This includes all Metrorail and Gautrain services.
All international and domestic flights are prohibited, irrespective of the risk category of the country of origin. Only essential air cargo will be allowed. However, cargo from high risk country must be sanitized.
The ban on cruise ships calling at any of our Sea Ports will be strictly enforced. Essential cargo will be allowed at our 8 Sea Ports. However, cargo from high risk countries must be sanitized.
MINIBUS TAXIS As part of the relief measures for small businesses in distress as announced by 2 the President, those taxis that have been financed by the National Taxi Finance administered by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) will be granted a 3 months repayment holiday. Commercial banks are also considering similar measures.
Minibus-Taxis will be allowed to transport essential services workers and those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements. Transport movements in this regard will be allowed to operate from 05h00 to 09h00 and again from 16h00 to 20h00.
Operators should put measures in place to adhere to social distancing in order to curb the spread of the virus.
All minibus-taxis must be sanitized after every trip.
All taxi ranks must be sanitized at regular intervals. Where appropriate, government will provide assistance.
METERED TAXIS AND E-HAILING
Metered Taxis and e-Hailing vehicles will be allowed to transport essential services workers and those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements. Transport movements in this regard will be allowed to operate from 05h00 to 09h00 and again from 16h00 to 20h00.
Metered Taxis and e-Hailing vehicles must be sanitized after each journey. The industry will take responsibility for this. Where appropriate government will assist.
The number of passengers each vehicle is allowed to carry will be reduced. A vehicle licensed to carry up to 4 people will only be permitted to load 1 person. A vehicle licensed to carry up to 8 passengers will only be permitted to load a maximum of 3 passengers. Sanitisers used in all taxi vehicles must have a minimum of 60% alcohol content.
Limited bus operations will be allowed to transport essential services workers and those allowed to make the necessary permitted movements. Cross-Border Road Transport
All cross-border road passenger movements will be prohibited for the duration of the lockdown.
Cross-border freight movement for essential goods will continue to and from our neighbouring countries.
During the lockdown period most services rendered by our entities will be suspended. Vehicle Testing Centres and Drivers’ Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) will 3 be closed. Should your drivers’ licence expire during the duration of the lockdown it shall remain valid until the end of the lockdown, with the grace period of renewal within 14 working days thereafter unless otherwise determined. Skeleton staff will be maintained for purposes of safe road operations, clearing of accidents, maintenance of tunnels as well as road traffic enforcement.
The Unemployment Insurance Commissioner, after consultation with Unemployment Insurance Executive has developed processes to access Covid19 TERS to contribute to the containment of the spread of Corona Virus and its impact.
This morning, South Africans woke up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19.
These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a Private Hospital and the other at a Public Hospital. more details will be given later, when the department announces the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases, which have increased from yesterday’s number and have tipped the 1000 mark.