Source: Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
Law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has outlined some of the key considerations for employees returning to work this January.
Returning from holiday and working from home
Where an employee is able to work from home while quarantining, the employee may do so and will therefore be entitled to their full salary. In cases where an employee is unable to work from home, the employee may make use of their annual leave for the quarantine period.
Where an employee has exhausted their annual leave, the principle of no work no pay will apply and the employee will be placed on unpaid leave.
Employers should alert employees to the fact they will be required to self-quarantine upon return from a hotspot area and that they will need to make use of annual leave or unpaid leave for this period where they are unable to work from home.
Under the exceptional circumstances of Covid-19, requiring an employee who has returned from a hotspot area to self-quarantine, it can be argued that this does not amount to unfair discrimination
“Unless the employer can show that the conduct of the employee has damaged the employment relationship in some way, the employer is not entitled to discipline the employee for their conduct outside of the workplace,” Cliffe Dekker Homeyr said.
“A balance must be struck between an employer maintaining a safe working environment post the holiday season and an invasion of an employee’s privacy. Employers can only encourage employees to adhere to government protocols outside of the workplace.”
Obligations at the workplace
In terms of the adjust level 3 regulations, an employer has the following obligations and responsibilities:
- To adhere to all sector-specific or other health and safety protocols issued to date;
- To appoint a compliance officer to enforce compliance with the adjusted level 3 regulations and all other health and safety protocols issued to date;
- Prohibit employees from entering the workplace or performing their duties unless an employee is wearing a face mask;
- Determine the floor plan area of the workplace and the number of persons who may enter the workplace based on the floor plan area, while still maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres;
- Ensure all persons queuing either inside or outside their premises maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres;
- Take measures to enforce physical distancing of 1.5 metres in its workplace, including implementing measures such as remote work, restrictions on face-to-face meetings and taking special measures in relation to employees who are considered vulnerable due to their age or co-morbidities;
- Provide hand sanitisers outside its premises.