South Africa and undeniably, the world, have faced turmoil with the current COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa has declared a National State of Disaster which has resulted in a lockdown as enforced by our president. Subsequently, employers are obligated to provide all essential service employees with the safest possible working environments as well as implement fair procedures as guided by all relevant legislation implemented by the necessary governing bodies.
Human resource and industrial relations outsourcing has numerous benefits including the improvement of risk management . Complying with legislation during disciplinary hearings, retrenchment procedures, transfers of business undertakings etc is crucial and reduces the risk of landing up at the CCMA for procedural and substantive fairness disputes in dealings with employees.
Government has now developed and enforced various measures to ensure that its people stay safe, by implementing drastic measures to manage the disease, protect people and mitigate the negative impact on the economy.
Due to the national lockdown, companies face uncertainties in terms of how to correctly manage their people and coinciding lack of revenue generated during this shut down. Employers are still obligated to follow fair processes when managing their employees by enforcing, if necessary, the following options during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The next obvious question would then naturally come to the forefront. What does this mean for employees financially? Employees would then be encouraged to claim various UIF benefits from the Department of Unemployment, with the assistance of their Employer, should they be temporarily layed off. The South African Government has also set up various funding schemes, such as TERS (temporary employment relief scheme) with the assistance of the Department of Unemployment to minimise the financial impact on affected Employees.
The aforementioned aspects need to be considered by employers to ensure that retrenchments are considered only as a last resort. As we are in unchartered territory, and the country’s lockdown has now been extended for a further two weeks, retrenchments may be inevitable, but should still be done in accordance with the Labour Relations Act of South Africa.
Cape Town Labour Consultants have been empowered to assist all employers to make sure they are able to implement all required legislative processes fairly during these unchartered times for its employees. We have undergone all relevant training to assist employers to make the correct informed decisions about their Employees and to assist with managing the relevant procedures, should these be the implementation of reduced working hrs for remote working employees, temporary lay offs, retrenchments as well as UIF application processes and required document packs.