Printing SA Updates Industry On COVID-19 Labour And Regulatory Matters


Printing SA has been fielding questions from members and has consolidated its responses, which cover labour and regulatory issues. The federation will continue to provide its members and stakeholders with verified and up to date advice on matters that will affect the industry during this lockdown period.

Its mandate is to ensure that members are kept abreast of developments and it continues to lobby the various government departments and stakeholders for more favourable trading conditions during and after this period.

Labour matters

What is the sector minimum wage per month?

The Printing, Packaging, Signage and Visual Communications sector is not bound by a minimum wage that emanates from a sectoral determination; rather, it is bound by the National Minimum Wage, which is currently R20,76 per hour, assuming a minimum of 8 hours worked per day. The minimum wage per month is R3598.95.

Q. We are one of the essential businesses and as a result of the COVID–19 epidemic we are looking at reducing our shifts, now in this letter it is stipulated that under these extreme circumstances that the basic conditions and labour act is suspended, as an employer where do I stand to put my staff on paid leave in order to reduce the number of feet in the operation and mitigate against the risk of getting contaminated? Secondly, as a result of other supplied customers that are non-especial business, there is a lot of confusion as CCMA has their version of the situation, and trade unions do not accept the fact that we have to place workers on leave.

A. In the event an employee, who is regarded as part of the essential services department, chooses not to work, the employee by default will be placed on unpaid leave, unless they agree to use their annual leave should they have any available. In the event of an employee who has not informed the employer of their intended absence, the basic conditions of employment should be instituted. As a result the employee would then be considered as absent without leave. However, under the circumstances, and due to the fact that there is an option to be at home during this national lockdown due to their fear of being exposed, one should give them the benefit of the doubt. This would then allow for the unpaid leave situation to take effect to avoid disciplinary action.

Regulatory matters

Q. Do I have to register my business on the CIPC portal in order to carry on business as an essential business?

A. This is currently not obligatory in terms of the regulations to register on bizportal. This portal has been put in place as an additional measure to give comfort to business and employees if they get stopped by police officers. It will also help government understand and better manage essential business services during this time. While it is currently not a legal condition of operation, it is recommended that all registered companies operating an essential business registers on the CIPC bizportal website, as this may become a requirement in the future. Note: only registered companies are able and currently required to get certificates from bizportal.

Q. Am I required to get exemption?

A. The lockdown regulations require voluntary compliance and responsible self-identification as an essential business or part thereof. You do not need to get a specific exemption. It is recommended, however, that you register on the CIPC bizportal website if you are a company as it is possible this may become a requirement in the future.

Q. What do I need to do for staff that need to get to work for an essential business?

A. The employee should have the letter on an official company letterhead, as well as official personal identification (ID document, passport or other official photo ID) with her/him when travelling to and from work. This can be presented to law enforcement officers if need be. Although SAPS have been instructed to accept electronic permit (e.g. employees’ phones) this has not been tested and not recommended at this stage. In addition, employees are advised to also carry a copy of the proof of registration on the as well as company identity card, if applicable.

Transport for employees of essential businesses: employers are required to ensure that staff are travelling to work safely under the lockdown. Where possible, employers should arrange and ensure transport for essential workers. Transport provided by the employer (i.e. private vehicles) may operate outside of the fixed public transport hours and must be regularly sanitised, with vehicle capacity of not more than 60% of the licenced capacity according to the regulations. Note: there is, however, some confusion about the maximum capacity allowed. We will update this once clarity is in place. In the meantime, please refer directly to the provisions of the regulations for more details and the directives issued by the Minister of Transport on 26 March and 31 March.

Q. I am providing essential services to other countries, is my business covered?

A. Yes, in terms of amended regulations 11B(4A)(b) services in relation to international markets and which provide or maintain essential services as it relates to health, social support, government and financial services may be authorised by the cabinet members for health and trade and industry.

Q. How will transportation of goods be managed during this period?

A. An essential business will be required to demonstrate that it is transporting an essential product or part of an essential service for the local or international market. A letter on a company letterhead should explain why the transportation is part of an essential service, referring to the relevant provision in the regulations. It is advisable to also carry the CIPC certificate.

Q. Will the FP&M SETA grant an extension for the submission of WSP & ATRs during this lockdown period?

A. The FP&M Seta has granted all companies that are registered with the Seta an extension for submission of WSP & ATRs to 31 May 2020.

Q. Why has my certificate to continue operating as an essential services business been cancelled by CIPC?

A. During the course of its review of the Essential Service list of applications, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has established that certain companies not designated as Essential Services have either fraudulently or negligently applied on the Bizportal website. As was made clear when the automated certificate was issued by the CIPC, the provision thereof was based on information provided by the registered company itself, and that possession thereof does not in itself constitute the right to continue operating during the lockdown period. Read more

Q. Has SARS afforded business any special tax benefits/breaks during this lockdown period?

A. The Minister of Finance has announced the following exceptional tax measures as part of the fiscal package outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020 in his speech on the Escalation of Measures to Combat COVID-19. These measures are over and above the tax proposals made in the 2020 Budget on 26 February 2020. Read more. Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of R50 million or less will be allowed to delay 20% of their employees’ tax liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months.

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