The Department of Employment and Labour issued a press release on Tuesday 17 March 2020, acknowledging that many companies will be adversely affected by the measures government has put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said that in order to assist distressed companies, a period of reprieve will be considered where companies will not be expected to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). He said the Funds Temporary Employer/ Employee Relief Scheme will be used to ensure that workers are not laid off.

“A period of reprieve will be considered where companies will not be expected to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).”

“In instances where companies decide to close for a short period as a precautionary measure, the short term UIF benefit will kick in. If a company contemplates a short term shut down, they are required to inform the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Our team will visit these companies to provide assistance with the processing of the claims,” said Nxesi.

He added that where an employee has to be self-quarantined for 14 days, it will be recognized as a special leave which will be fully paid on the condition that the reason for the quarantine meets the requirements and that the employee can apply for UIF benefits.

Furthermore, if an employee must be quarantined for longer than 14 days as a result of having travelled or been in contact with an infected person, such a leave will be recognized as a special leave and that employee will be eligible to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.

The minister urged employers to conduct a health and safety risk assessment in consultation with their workers, and to ensure that adequate measures are put in place for a healthy workplace for their staff, as required by law.

You can read the full press statement here.