Employers and employees have a role to play in controlling the effect of the coronavirus as we embark on a national lockdown at midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020 as announced by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Self-isolating, being placed in quarantine and working from home have become a reality since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Since the announcement of the lockdown on Monday, 23 March 2020 many employers have already put measures into place to ensure that their employees continue to work from home and maintain a safe working environment.

However employees who form part of the essential and designated services will continue to remain in their current working environment. Therefore, we now have to turn to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 which states that an employer shall provide and maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees. This means that the law places a duty on the employer to minimise exposure and the spread of the virus.

It is therefore highly recommended that employers adopt contingency strategies and communicate with its employees regarding the procedures that the employer will put into place to secure the workplace and employees from being infected by the virus.

Some of these measures may include but are not limited to:

  • Supplying employees with hand sanitiser and other hygiene equipment;
  • Avoiding handshaking and ensuring as little physical contact as possible with other persons;
  • Employees should remain home if they display any symptoms of the virus or complain of feeling ill; and
  • Meetings and communication should be minimised and the use of alternative methods should be encouraged.

Employees share an equally important responsibility to adhere to the health and safety policies and procedures implemented by the employer. Therefore employees should diligently follow these policies put in place by their employer to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

As we embark on this 21 day lockdown, it is encouraged that employers and employees work together to overcome the many challenges which may arise during this trying times.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this document is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage which may arise from reliance on information contained in this article.