New regulations were published by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 29 April 2020 (the “Regulations”, gazette no. 43258) outlining the rules applicable during Alert Level 4 and the Department of Employment and Labour (the “DEL”) provided a briefing to media, addressing expectations on employers to ensure employees’ safety and mitigate the spread of the virus in the workplace.
Screening and employees who display symptoms
If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, an employer must inform the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour; and investigate the cause, including any control failure, and review its risk assessment to ensure that the necessary controls and PPE requirements are in place; and it must give administrative support to any contact-tracing measures implemented by the Department of Health.
Every employer must take measures to:
screen any worker, at the time that they report for work, to ascertain whether they have any of the observable symptoms associated with COVID-19, namely fever, cough, sore throat, redness of eyes or shortness of breath (or difficulty in breathing);
require every worker to report whether they suffer from any of the following additional symptoms: body aches, loss of smell or loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, weakness or tiredness; and
require workers to immediately inform the employer if they experience any of these symptoms while at work.
Employers must comply with any guidelines issued by the National Department of Health in consultation with the DEL in respect of symptom screening; and if in addition required to do so, medical surveillance and testing.
If a worker presents with symptoms or advises the employer of symptoms, the employer must:
not permit the worker to enter the workplace or report for work; or
if the worker is already at work immediately isolate the worker, provide the worker with an FFP1 surgical mask and arrange for the worker to be transported in a manner that does not place other workers or members of the public at risk either to be self-isolated or for a medical examination or testing; and
Employees diagnosed with the virus
If a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, an employer may only allow a worker to return to work on the following conditions:
the worker has undergone a medical evaluation confirming that the worker has been tested negative for COVID-19;
the employer ensures that personal hygiene, wearing of masks, social distancing, and cough etiquette is strictly adhered to by the worker; and
the employer closely monitors the worker for symptoms on return to work.