Department of Labour and Employment to provide assistance
Post President Ramaphosa’s call for social distancing as well measures in place for travel bans and quarantine, there will inevitably be great strain on companies and employees.
The Department of Labour has issued communication that they will, in the coming weeks, attempt to assist companies and employees in the following ways:
A period of reprieve will be considered where companies will be exempt from contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). This has not been promulgated.
Where companies are forced to close for short periods as a precaution, short term UIF benefits may be claimed but the company MUST first contact the Unemployment Insurance Fund and teams will be sent to the company to assist with the processing of claims.
Where an employee must be self-quarantined for 14 days, such leave will be recognized as a special leave which will be fully paid on condition that the reason for the quarantine meets the requirements and that employee can apply for UIF benefits.
As per the UIF, only natural persons who are or were employed, and who can satisfy the Unemployment Insurance Commission (the Commissioner) that he/she has made contributions in terms of the provisions of the UIA, qualify for benefits in the following circumstances:
should they become unemployed
they are ill for more than 7 days whilst employed
where a woman is pregnant, she would be entitled to maternity benefits
they qualify for adoption benefits and parental benefits
Requirement for Special Leave
If an employee has been in close contact with an individual who has since been diagnosed with COVID-19, the employee must immediately inform the Department of Health. If, after informing the Department of Health and they require an individual to self-quarantine the employee will then be entitled to special leave.
Short term UIF benefit
Should an employer be forced to consider a temporary shutdown as a result of the pandemic and its effect on operational requirements, the employer MUST:
Contact the Unemployment Insurance Fund to seek assist with implementation of the temporary shut down and processing of claims;
Consult with employees and advise them of the process to be followed for claims submission and as well as possible duration of the shut down
Advise employees that the shutdown will be unpaid and they can claim from UIF
The department has yet to communicate which requirements must be met for these benefits to apply, as well as how these benefits need to be applied for in practice specifically as the employee may be quarantined whilst applying for same.
The Minister of Labour has further urged employers to conduct Health and Safety Risk assessments in consultation with workers as well as implementing mitigation techniques to assist with workplace safety.
LabourNet has been in continuous contact with the Department of Labour to enquire about methods of assistance and will share updates with clients as soon as we receive feedback.
In the interim, we urge our clients to contact their consultant should any queries arise from an employment and health and safety perspective.
Should you require assistance with inspections, our qualified Health and Safety consultants are here to assist.
For more information on the above topic, please contact the LabourNet Helpdesk at
0861 LABNET (0861 522638).
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