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You don't qualify for sick leave if you're put into enforced quarantine

9 March 2020 9:01 AM
Tags:
Sick leave
wORKPLACE
Coronavirus
COVID-19

A labour advisor provides information on how employers and employees should manage the coronavirus and the workplace.

As the novel coronavirus lands in South Africa, both employers and employees are questioning the impact on the workplace.

Senior Legal Advisor at Strata G Labour And HR Solutions Tertius Wessels, talks to Abongile Nzelenzele about the rights and obligations of management and staff regarding coronavirus.

Wessels says there is an obligation on the part of the employer to avoid panic setting in and ensure staff is educated.

There is an obligation in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to make sure the working environment is safe and healthy for all employees.

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

There is a great deal of information and advice out there, especially on social media platforms, and not all of it is accurate or true, he says.

Employees need to follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Department of Health and its National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions
© tharakorn/123rf.com

SICK LEAVE RIGHTS

How should employers manage sick leave in relation to Covid-19?

If a medical doctor places an employee in quarantine, the employee should ordinarily receive a medical certificate and be entitled to sick leave.

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

In other instances, an employee might be placed under compulsory quarantine, that is not necessarily enforced by the employer (as seen in the KZN case). And in cases like those, the employee will not necessarily be entitled to sick leave.

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

It is a very unique situation, and there is nothing in law to compel the employer to pay the employee for that period of quarantine.

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

I think it's incumbent on all employers to look at each individual case and consider the possibility of giving employees special leave for these particular incidents.

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

An employee only has certain types of leave - and the requirement for sick leave is a valid medical certificate.

Being placed under quarantine is a precautionary measure.

In situations where employees believe they have been exposed to the virus, but it has not been diagnosed, the employer needs to take the risks into consideration.

The employer also has to make a decision.

Am I going to risk this person coming to the workplace and exposing other employees to the virus? Or am I going to say to the employee, rather stay home, get proper medical advice, or self-quarantine for a certain period?

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

And could the employee then work from home and still be remunerated?

He says these are all precautionary measures that need to be considered to limit panic in the workplace.

It is potentially up for abuse...but that would be very irresponsible of employees and increase panic.

Tertius Wessels, Senior Legal Advisor - Strata G Labour And HR Solutions

Businesses still need to function and so the situation should not be misused, he adds.

Wessels also outlines the health recommendations for the workplace.

Listen to the interview below:




9 March 2020 9:01 AM
Tags:
Sick leave
wORKPLACE
Coronavirus
COVID-19

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