Here are the updated Covid-19 rules for workers in South Africa – including the new quarantine times

Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi has revealed a new directive on Occupational Health and Safety in the office throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Chloё Loubser, senior affiliate at regulation agency Bowmans, mentioned that the directive takes under consideration current developments communicated by the Department of Health in addition to new details about the virus from sources like the World Health Organisation.

The new rules place extra obligations on employers whose workers have returned to work, she mentioned.

Loubser outlined the greatest modifications in extra element beneath.

Risk assessments 

Loubser mentioned that there’s nonetheless a requirement for all employers to undertake a threat evaluation and to develop a office plan, outlining the protecting measures in place for the phased return of workers earlier than opening.

“What is new, is that there is now an additional item that must be included in an employer’s workplace plan – a description of the procedure to be followed to resolve any issue that may arise from the exercise by an employee of the right to refuse to work in specific circumstances,” she mentioned.

Employers with greater than 50 workers

There are new reporting obligations imposed on employers with greater than 50 workers, mentioned Loubser. These embrace:

  • Such employers should submit a report of their threat evaluation, along with a written coverage regarding the safety of the well being and security of workers from COVID-19 as contemplated in part 7(1) of OHSA to (i) their well being and security committee; and (ii) the Department of Employment;
  • The submission to the division have to be made by e mail to the tackle of the acceptable Provincial Chief Inspector (accessible here) inside 21 days of the graduation of the directive, i.e. by no later than 21 October 2020.

“Previously, this obligation only arose where an employer employed more than 500 employees,” mentioned Loubser.

“In addition, while the obligation to provide screening and testing data previously only applied to employers with more than 500 employees in certain sectors, all employers with more than 50 employees must now submit the following categories of data to the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) electronically (to [email protected] or via the online platform) in the manner set out in the guidelines (available here).”

This consists of:

  • Each worker’s vulnerability standing for critical outcomes of a Covid-19 an infection;
  • Details of the each day symptom screening knowledge;
  • Details of workers who check constructive for Covid-19;
  • The variety of workers recognized as high-risk contacts (and who’ve been quarantined) on account of publicity to a employee who has examined constructive for Covid-19; and
  • Details on the post-infection outcomes of these testing constructive, including the return to work evaluation consequence.

Vulnerability standing knowledge have to be supplied as soon as in respect of every worker. The remaining knowledge is to be submitted weekly, as quickly as potential earlier than Tuesday in respect of the knowledge collected in the earlier calendar week commencing on Sunday, Loubser mentioned.

“The above knowledge may additionally be submitted by an employer by way of an employers’ affiliation, if the affiliation has entered into an settlement with the NIOH to obtain, course of and submit the knowledge to the NIOH and has undertaken to submit the knowledge on behalf of the employer.

“Importantly, employers must inform their employees that their personal information will be submitted to the NIOH in accordance with the employer’s legal obligations and that the NIOH will comply with the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act,” mentioned Loubser.

Reporting constructive instances 

While beforehand employers had been required to report every occasion in which an worker examined constructive for Covid-19 to the Department of Health by way of the Covid-19 hotline quantity, constructive instances should now be reported to the NIOH in the identical method as the experiences made by employers with greater than 50 workers (described above).

In addition, the directive requires employers to tell the Compensation Commissioner at any time when a employee has been identified with COVID-19 at the office, in accordance with the directive on Compensation for Workplace-acquired Novel Corona Virus Disease, mentioned Loubser.

The directive additionally clarifies that, in the occasion {that a} employee shows signs of Covid-19 at the office, the employer’s obligation is to isolate the employee and to rearrange for the employee to be transported to a public well being facility (i.e. certainly one of the established testing websites).

From there, the employee will both be directed to self-isolate or will bear a medical examination.

Isolation and quarantine intervals

Loubser mentioned that the directive has now been introduced in line with the updated pointers by the Department of Health, by lowering the intervals of self-isolation and self-quarantine from 14 days to 10 days.

Health workers with excessive threat publicity should stay in quarantine for 7 days, which might, by settlement with the employee, be decreased to 5 days.

The self-isolation interval applies to workers who’ve examined constructive, whereas self-quarantine is for shut contacts/workers with high-risk publicity to a constructive instances.

Refusal to work as a result of publicity to Covid-19

Under the earlier rules, an worker might refuse to work if circumstances come up which, with affordable justification, seem to that worker, or to a well being and security consultant, to pose an imminent and critical threat of publicity to Covid-19.

In such circumstances, the employer is beneath an obligation to resolve any situation that will come up from the train of such proper, after session with the Covid-19 Compliance Officer and any well being and security committee, mentioned Loubser.

“Direction 14 of the Revised OHS Direction now extends the consultation obligation to include a health and safety representative – where there is no committee – and adds a further reporting obligation in the event that the matter cannot be resolved internally,” she sia.d

“Where the matter cannot be resolved, the employer is obliged to notify an inspector of the issue within 24 hours and to advise the employee and all other parties involved in resolving the issue that an inspector has been notified,” she mentioned.

If the employer doesn’t make the notification, the worker could accomplish that, Loubser mentioned.

An inspector could then, in phrases of part 30 of the OHSA, situation a prohibition discover in the event that they are of the opinion that any act threatens or is prone to threaten the well being and security of any individual.

You can learn the full directive beneath.

Read: What to anticipate from Wednesday’s main strike motion in South Africa


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