Home News It cannot be business as usual, says Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi

It cannot be business as usual, says Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi


Businesses must have a clear plan on how they will protect the health and safety of everyone in their workplace when they return to work.

Johannesburg – Businesses must have a clear plan on how they will protect the health and safety of everyone in their workplace, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi said on Sunday.

Nxesi was on Sunday briefing the country on back to work readiness ahead of the first working day on Level 4 lockdown since President Cyril Ramaphosa eased South Africa coronavirus lockdown regulations.

“In returning to work it cannot be business as usual,” Nxesi said adding that he had issued a direction in terms of regulation 10 subsection 8 of the regulations issued by Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

The direction sets out the measures that employers must take to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 in workplaces, and these, we must emphasize are minimum measures. Employers are able to go beyond that.

“Businesses that are reopening must put these measures in place before restarting the work.” Sectors that can reopen are contained in Annexure E.

Nxesi said: “Employers must take measures to protect the health and safety of everyone in their workplace. This includes employees of contractors, self employed person and volunteers. 

“The process starts with a risk assessment in the workplace and a clear plan to implement the measures contained in the direction.”

Every employer must do the following:

* Notify every employer of the contents of the direction and how it will be implemented. 

* They must inform employees that if they have Covid-19 symptoms, they must not be at work and grant paid sick leave or apply for Covid-10 Ters benefits.

* The employer must appoint a manager from within the existing structure to address the concerns of the employees and workplace representatives.

* They must take measures to minimise contact between the workers and between the workers and the public to prevent the transmission.

* They must minimise the number of the workers in the workplace at any time through shifts or working arrangements to achieve social distancing.

* The employer must provide employees with information concerning Cvid-19 and how to prevent its transmission.

* They must report any diagnosis of Covid-19 at work to the Department of Health and to the Department of Employment and Labour, investigate the cause and take appropriate measures. It is a contravention not to do so as an employer.

* They must support any contact tracing measures initiated by the Department of Health.

* Workplaces must be arranged to ensure a minimum of 1.5 metres between workers. If this is not practical, physical barriers must be erected and workers must be supplied free of charge with the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.

* Social distancing must be implemented in all common areas of the workplace to prevent crowding, including in working spaces, canteens, meeting rooms etc.

* In relation to screening, employers must screen workers for symptoms of Covid-19 at the time that they report for work, namely cough, fever sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, body aches, loss of sense of smell, or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or weakness.

* Workers should immediately inform employers if they experience any symptoms at work. Not doing so is a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

South Africa has been under a five-week national lockdown, which was eased on Thursday, with the introduction of a five-level phased approach to easing the lockdown. 

The country moved to Level 4 lockdown as of Friday, May 1. The lockdown was imposed by the government to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Level 4 lockdown will see many more returning to work, including agricultural workers, and those who work in the retail clothing industry.

Food agriculture and services including livestock farming will be allowed to operate and the export of agricultural good will also be allowed.

Manufacturers of retail products permitted to be sold under level 4 will also be allowed to open under strict conditions.