President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the whole country will be moved to Alert Level 3 on 1 June. With this in mind, Printing SA has announced the latest Covid-19 developments and their impact on the industry.
All manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, professional and business services, information technology, communications, government services, and media services can be fully reopened on 1 June. However, many businesses will still not be allowed to trade under Alert Level 3, including hairdressers, restaurants (apart from takeaways), gyms, and bars.
Level 3 will bring much more freedom to citizens as curfews will be dropped, exercise will be allowed at any time, and alcohol sales by liquor stores (though not bars) will be permitted. Domestic air travel for business reasons will be allowed.
The impact of Covid-19 on economic statistics released by the South African Reserve Bank
The Economic Statistics Department of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has always met its statistical commitments regarding original release schedules, in accordance with the International Monetary Fund’s Special Data Dissemination Standard. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the compilation of certain economic statistics due to the difficulties experienced in the collection of data from respondents.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced that gross domestic product (GDP) statistics for the first quarter of 2020 would be released on 30 June 2020. Other Stats SA statistics in the compilation of statistics published by the SARB, the June 2020 Quarterly Bulletin, will now be released on 16 July 2020. Read more
Important message to all employers regarding the temporary employer/ employee relief scheme (TERS)
There has been a change in the process for applying for the UIF TERS benefit on behalf of employees from May, in terms of which employers have a new option. The employers applying will be able to indicate whether the benefits should be paid to the company or whether payment must be made directly into employees’ bank accounts. Read more
Official government regulations and guidelines on Covid-19
All official government regulations and guidelines are available at: www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines
Safe return to work: health planning tools for business
On 23 April 2020, the President further announced the gradual and phased approach to other business operations, which will differ regarding the applicable level of lockdown as declared by Government from time to time (Levels 1 to 5). Every employer will, during each of the levels of lockdown and for the foreseeable future thereafter, have to adhere to detailed occupational health and safety protocols. This means that all employers must re-examine their activities, work environment and policies in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and may need to change, adapt or enhance these in order to operate.
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What is working from home (WFH)?
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, companies have implemented working from home protocols as preventive measures or in response to the order or directive of the Government restricting face-to-face contact. Many companies are exploring WFH as a temporary or alternative working arrangement.
WFH is a working arrangement in which a worker fulfils the essential responsibilities of his/her job while remaining at home, using information and communications technology (ICT). It requires shared responsibility and commitment by both employers and workers to ensure business continuity and employment.
Are all jobs suitable for working from home (WFH) arrangements?
Companies may be able to implement WFH arrangements to achieve continuity of service, maintain productivity, and preserve jobs while safeguarding the safety and health of workers. The responsibility for WFH arrangements is shared, and it requires the commitment of both employers and workers to make it successful. Both employers and workers should be practical, flexible and sensible to each other’s situation when implementing WFH arrangements.
How to determine if WFH is suitable for your business:
– Identify the job functions and tasks that can be done off-site. This may involve innovation and creativity to do things differently from the norm.
– Assess mechanisms for connectivity such as regular video conferencing calls and other means.
– Assess the infrastructure, facilities and tools available for WFH, such as internet connectivity and the availability of reliable power supply.
– Assess the legal requirements, obligations and potential liability, taking into consideration the worker’s situation and the job functions, equipment and tools needed.
– Assess the worker’s situation in terms of safety and health in his/her domestic environment and actual ability to carry out the tasks required at home.
– Consider the potential impact of the worker’s living arrangements. For example, workers may have child or dependent care responsibilities, long-term health conditions or disabilities.
– Assess any mental health concerns or possible future concerns that could arise through a work from home arrangement.
– It is important to note that while advances in ICT have enabled WFH, not all job functions and tasks can be done outside the employers’ premises or the specified workplace. There are companies, occupations and tasks where WFH is not practical or feasible, or it cannot be deployed in a short time frame.
Employers need to explore and implement an alternative plan for job functions and tasks that cannot be performed remotely, or for workers who have limitations at home or health and safety issues that prevent WFH.
Printing SA wishes to acknowledge Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (Bureau for Employers’ Activities) for the above information on WFH.
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