By: Gerhard Papenfus, chief executive of NEASA
The President, on 23 March 2020, announced a national lockdown with effect from midnight on 26 March 2020. Here are some options employers should consider for during the lockdown.
The President indicated that certain measures will be put in place within a few days, however, limited detail as to these measures were provided.
While we await the regulations, which will stipulate how these measures will be implemented, employers will need to consider the following options available to them:
· Employers who are able to continue paying their employees during the lockdown period, without compromising the viability of the business, are encouraged by government to do so.
· Employees who can continue to work from home may be allowed to do so if it is feasible and practical.
· Employers may place their employees on annual leave and exchange this with the shutdown in December, if possible and feasible. Payment of leave entitlement
should occur at the same intervals as normal remuneration payments i.e. weekly or monthly.
· Employers may consider staggering payments of monies due in order to manage cash flow effectively.
· Employers may implement a lay-off for their employees which entails that employees will not be paid as the company has to observe the lockdown.
The President also indicated that employers may opt to participate in the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) in terms of which employees are placed on training during the lay-off period and the employer is exempted from certain statutory obligations and only needs to pay a portion of the employee’s salary. However, due to the inherent requirements of this training (face-to-face and on site), this does not seem to be a viable option.
Employers should note that these options may change considerably due to the regulations that government is expected to issue. However, the Minister of Employment and Labour has indicated that interventions and assistance by his Department are still under discussion at NEDLAC.