Wednesday | 25 March | 2020
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) advises persons who develop symptoms of Covid-19 and have reason to believe that they had contact with someone who has the virus should promptly self-isolate and take steps to prevent transmission of the virus.
The Department of Health recommended that if you show any sign of Covid 19 symptoms or suspect you got the virus, you shouldn’t visit your nearest doctor/pharmacy or health practitioner, but should stay at home and dial the Covid 19 emergency line at 0800029999.
We suggest that you inform your employer immediately if you feel you risk transmitting the disease, so that your employer can immediately do the necessary risk assessment. Then you can phone your doctor, ask them for advice in the circumstances and follow it. We also suggest that you keep the employer abreast of the relevant facts so you can decide on the best way going forward together.
Section 8(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act obliges the employer to ensure, as far as reasonably and practically possible, a workplace that is safe and free of any risk to the employees’ health. In the context of the Covid 19 viral disease, the employer has a clear obligation to control and manage the transmission of the virus. In practice, this means that the employer must see to it that the workplace must remain clean and hygienic, that employees are encouraged to wash their hands regularly and avoid physical contact with their colleagues, service providers and the like as far as possible, adjust the duty to travel (especially internationally) and regularly inform employees of developments related to the virus.
If you think your child simply has ordinary flu, Section 27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 75 of 1997 entitles you to take family responsibility leave.
Family responsibility leave is applicable to employees who have worked for an employer for at least four months and work for the employer at least four days a week. Employees qualify for family responsibility leave of 3 days.
An employee will be entitled to paid family responsibility leave in the following circumstances:
(a) when the employee’s child is born;
(b) when the employee’s child is ill; or
(c) in case of death of –
(i) the employee’s spouse or life partner;
(ii) the employee’s parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild or sibling.
The mere fact that an employee qualifies for this leave does not mean that this employee can simply stay away from work. Employers can take disciplinary steps in terms of the disciplinary procedure in cases where employees just stay away because a perception exists than they are entitled to the benefits. To confirm that the leave is taken for the purpose as discussed, the employer has the right to request reasonable proof, such as a medical certificate, before paid family responsibility leave is granted.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.