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Minister Nxesi Says Employers Must Negotiate With Employees

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Covid-19 and the 21 day national lockdown we are currently participating in, has many South Africans scrambling around and wanting to know which direction they should take in terms of their jobs. SA's Minister of Employment and Labour has made some statements involving this very issue.

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In order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared that South Africa is to take part in a 21 day national lockdown. This lockdown begun on 26 March at midnight. 

Anyone who is not a health worker, a part of emergency personnel or involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products, has to stay at home and not report to work. Individuals have been encouraged to work from home if they are able to do so. 

However, it has been found that some South Africans are not able to work from home but have also been told by employers that they need to take unpaid leave in order to be able to stay home during the lockdown. Employees having no option but to stay at home is in no way their fault and it is therefore unfair for employees to be told that they should take unpaid leave. 

Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, is now urging companies to pay their employees their full salaries for March and to not have the lockdown be a burden to employees. He also advises that employers should negotiate with employees seeing that the current situation calls for us to all unite as a nation in order to stop the spread of the disease.

The Labour Department is being urged to act swiftly in disbursing money to workers whose income has been affected by current lockdown. There is a R30 billion National Disaster Benefit Fund that will pay UIF to help reduce the impact that workers not being able to work during the lockdown has. However, some companies are refusing to claim UIF for their employees in order to avoid the paperwork.

Nxesi has said that he intends to put a stop to employers' abuse of workers who are telling their workers to take unpaid leave and find a solution as employees should be showing social responsibility and solidarity during this time.

Those individuals who are reporting to work for essential services and businesses, have received guidelines and have their work places being monitored. Labour inspections are being done to ensure safety precautions are being taken. Earlier in the week it was reported that two Shoprite stores in Pretoria were closed down for not following safety regulations. 

It has also been found that some businesses have gone through the effort of getting fraudulent certificates that says they are an essential business so that operations can continue. 

Anyone who is involved in a non-essential business but is being forced to work is being directed to contact SAPS and to report their employer. Any worker who does this and is victimised will be protected by the Labour Relations Act as employers are engaging in an unfair labour practice.

If employers are finding it difficult to pay workers, they can also get assistance through the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). 

Employers are obligated to provide their workers with personal protective equipment needed to keep them safe while performing their duties. The types of personal protective equipment required during a Covid-19 outbreak will be based on the risk of being infected with Covid19 while working and job tasks that may lead to exposure.

 

 

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