2020
3rd Apr 2020

COVID-19: Updated and amended lock down regulations 02 April 2020

Updated and amended regulations to address issues regarding transport, essential goods and the tracking of the coronavirus was signed and gazetted by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on 02 April 2020.

The changes include:

Funerals

  • Provision for certain individuals to be allowed to travel between provinces, metropolitan areas and districts for the purpose of transporting mortal remains for burial.

  • A process by which persons who wish to travel between provinces, metropolitan and districts to attend a funeral or cremation can obtain a permit, provided they are:

  • The spouse or partner of the deceased.

  • Children of the deceased, whether biological, adopted or stepchildren.

  • Children-in-law of the deceased.

  • Parents of the deceased whether biological, adopted or stepparents.

  • Siblings, whether biological, adopted or stepbrother or sister of the deceased.

  • Grandparents of the deceased.

  • Persons closely affiliated to the deceased.


Tracking

  • The creation of a confidential national database that will allow for the tracing for people who has, or who have been in contact with someone who has the coronavirus.

  • The database will collect personal information on persons when they are tested.

  • Government may also request information from electronic communications service providers such as mobile networks and ISPs, including location and movement.

  • The database will include (but is not limited to) the following information:

  • First name

  • Last name

  • Identity/Passport number.

  • Residential address.

  • Work address/Other addresses where they could be located

  • Cell phone number

  • Covid-19 test results

  • The personal details of all known or suspected contacts of a person who has tested positive for the virus.


Spaza shops and informal traders

  • Grocery stores and wholesale produce markets, including spaza shops and informal food traders, may operate but must obtain a permit from a municipal authority to operate.


These changes are gazetted in the Government Gazette 43199 on 02 April 2020, please follow the link for the full publication.

2nd Apr 2020

COVID-19 Updates in lockdown regulations 01 April 2020

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has issued a series of updates to the regulations in action during the national lockdown to facilitate better access to transport to vulnerable persons in response to citizens having difficulty finding transport to collect social grants.

According to government gazette 43183 (30Mar2020), “Busses and taxis shall be permitted to operate from 05h00 to 20h00 in order to cater the transport needs of South Africans most vulnerable which is effective from 30 March 2020 until 03 April 2020.”

A further amendment extends the period of validity for driver’s and vehicles for the period of the lockdown, and further 30 days grace period from the date of the end of the lockdown period. Motor Trade number licenses are extended a grace period of 6 months from the date of the end of the lockdown period. Licensing and vehicle test centres will remain closed for the lockdown.

The designation of essential workers have also been extended to include:

  • Tollgate operators

  • Road Emergency operators

  • Employees responsible for safe operation of the roads

  • Rail logistics operators


Government gazette 43186 (30Mar2020) grants a grace period to taxis to proceed to and from the pick-up points an hour before the designated times, without loading passengers, as set out in the Disaster Management act. Taxis are permitted to collect and return essential workers from 05h00 to 10h00 and 16h00 to 22h00. The amendment continues to say that private institutions or companies may plan transport for their essential workers (as listed in Annexure B of the Disaster Management act) to be in line with operating shifts and work time schedules. These operating shifts or work schedules must be stamped and signed by the responsible person.

This amendment also increases the permitted load capacity of minibus taxis to 70 % where no masks are required, meaning a taxi with a licensed capacity of 10 persons may carry 7, a capacity of 15 may carry 10 and a capacity of 22 may carry 15. In all cases the allowed number of persons in the vehicle includes the driver. A vehicle licensed for 4 persons is still limited to a 50 % permitted load capacity, meaning only 2 persons may be in the vehicle including the driver. However, during the lockdown period a minibus taxi will be permitted to carry a full load as licensed provided all persons in the vehicle is wearing either a surgical or N95 mask.

Government Gazette 43189 (30Mar2020) extends the ban on all local and international flights irrespective of the risk status of the country of origin except where granted specific permission by the Minister of Transport to evacuate South African citizens in foreign countries. Repatriation is allowed only where the foreign countries charter an aircraft to South Africa without passengers but with a crew – whom will not be allowed to disembark the plane in South Africa. South African citizens who wish to return to the country during this time will be permitted to do so provided:

  1. They have a fully paid return flight ticket, and

  2. They will submit to a mandatory quarantine period of up to 21 days.


The following technical flights are allowed:

  1. Medical Evacuation flights – these flights should not carry passengers except patients and crew who, upon disembarking, will be subject to the mandatory quarantine laws as are applicable.

  2. Aircraft in a state of emergency

  3. Overflights

  4. Technical landings for refuelling – these flights are allowed provided no passengers are allowed to disembark the plane.

  5. Aircraft operations related to humanitarian aid, relief flights and other safety related operations.


The following airports must have operation staff on standby to receive aircraft in distress:

  • Port Elizabeth

  • Bram Fisher

  • Upington

  • Polokwane

  • Kruger Mpumalanga


Flight Cargo crew will be permitted to disembark on the condition that they will be subject to quarantine laws as applicable.





2nd Apr 2020

COVID-19: TERS Application for UIF benefits update

All employers are required to register for the TERS benefit by sending an e-mail to covid19ters@labour.gov.za, but employers with more than 10 employees as well as employers using a payroll system, will be required to complete the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which can be received through an auto reply to the email address covid19ters@labour.gov.za or as linked here.

These employers will receive a bulk payment from UIF and will be responsible for the distribution of the funds to its employees and provide an audit trail. Employers with 10 or less employees will not have to distribute the funds as employees will be paid directly by UIF.

If an Employer has less than 10 employees and/or no payroll system, they will not be required to complete the MOA and can follow the easy prescribed method.

All employers will receive an automated response from covid19ters@labour.gov.za and a number of compulsory documents will be provided.

Employers are encouraged to submit claims as soon as possible as it will take UIF some time to process the large number of expected claims. Any subsequent updated documents will supersede any outdated documents already submitted.

Employers should note that claims should be mailed to covid19claims@labour.gov.za.

Please note that employers who resort under a bargaining council, should confirm with such a council whether it has reached an agreement with UIF in respect of TERS benefits, in which case claims must be submitted through the relevant bargaining council in accordance with that particular agreement.

Employers are reminded to not claim UIF unless the situation is dire, or withhold funds from employees, as the UIF can issue an audit on your account at any time. If it is deemed that money has not been paid to employees or misappropriated employers will be held liable by the law.

List of required documents for TERS application (templates linked):

  1. Letter of Authority

  2. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

  3. Prescribed template that will require critical information from the Employer

  4. Confirmation of Employer details

  5. Evidence / payroll as proof of last three months employee(s) salary/ies

  6. Confirmation of Employer bank account details in the form of a certified latest bank statement.


References (linked):

(i)                Covid -19 TERS EASY AID GUIDE

(ii)               The body of the Auto Reply Email received from UIF

 
30th Mar 2020

COVID-19: Clothing industry reaches agreement on payment of wages

An collective agreement by the Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry regarding the payment of wages to employees in the clothing sector during the national lock down to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, has been extended to non-parties in the industry by the Minister of Employment and Labour, with effect from 26 March 2020.

The primary aim of this agreement is to ensure that workers are not left to face the lock down period without income. The clothing manufacturing industry agrees that it cannot be left up to government alone to address the impact of the lock down on industry and employees and will play a supportive role in this effort.

This agreement is in effect as of 26 March 2020 and determines that employers in the industry and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will take turns to pay the employees’ weekly wages for a provided 6-week period despite the lock down period being only 3 weeks long.

Payments will be scheduled as follows:

Week 1

The employer will pay deferred wages for work performed during the week prior to the lock down.

Week 2

a – The employer will pay deferred wages for work performed      during the week of the lock down,

b – The balance of the wages will consist of workers’ funds received from the UIF in cases where the lock down started before a full week’s work was performed.

Week 3

The employer will pay a full week’s wages.

Week 4

Worker’s funds from the UIF will pay a full week's wages.

Week 5

The employer will pay a full week’s wages.

Week 6

Worker’s funds from the UIF will pay a full week's wages.

All payments due to employees from the employer during the first two weeks shall be paid to employees, irrespective of whether funds were received from the UIF. All normal statutory deductions shall also continue to be effected during this 6-week period.



27th Mar 2020

Use the lock down to your advantage

We find ourselves in unprecedented times, after President Ramaphosa placed South Africa in a 21-day lock down to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

While a pandemic is naturally unpredictable, many labour issues sprout from oversights that are predictable, and thankfully, can be rectified. These pertain to an absence of contracts and policies that set legal boundaries and establishes responsibility in the case of transgression.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) it is required by law that every employer provides a contract of employment to the employee on no later than the first day of work. The contract must stipulate the parties entering into the employment agreement, the terms of service, and the conditions of employment – including remuneration, deductions, hours of work, overtime, leave and termination of employment.

Another pitfall, often overlooked especially by smaller companies, is the need for company policy documents which often lead to successful challenges by disciplined or dismissed employees at the CCMA for unfair labour practice. Unfair labour practice is defined by Section 186(2) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) as “any unfair act or omission that arises between an employer and an employee…” Without a company policy in place – along with a documented record that the employee had been informed and agreed to the stipulations in a policy - it can be an extremely difficult task to act against employees. The employee can, as a principle of unfair labour practice, claim that he was never informed of the policy s/he transgressed and has the right to conclude that it does not exist.

Drafting company policy documents are not without their own legal difficulties and is best to be done in consultation with an experienced labour law expert. Policies that may be required by any company, irrespective of size, include:

  • Disciplinary & Grievances Policy

  • Company Communications Policy

  • Company Vehicles Policy

  • Computer Usage Policy

  • Corruption, Gifts and Kickbacks Policy

  • Employment Equity Policy

  • Performance Management Policy and Procedure

  • Sexual Harassment Policy

  • Smoking Policy

  • Telephone Policy

  • Travel Policy

  • Health & Safety Policy

  • Emergency and Disaster Management Policy


Incorporating such matters into a contract means that any transgression is then not only a breach of company policy but also a breach of contract – putting the employer on much more solid ground should any dispute arise.

Another minefield in the dispute landscape is the lack of documented training records. Following on the same principle as above, an employee that is disciplined or dismissed for poor work performance, may challenge such a sanction on the basis that they were not properly trained in the task/system which lead to the disciplinary action, thus rendering any sanction of poor performance to be unfair. A detailed training record on file of any training sessions, coaching (informal or formal) offers great insurance from a disgruntled, non-performing employee.

Time spent on closing loopholes to prevent disciplinary or behavioural headaches is always well-spent, and best done sooner rather than later. In the spirit of the lock down, use any available time in the next three weeks to re-examine employee records and close any gaps you may find.
26th Mar 2020

COVID-19: Documentation for essential services employees

In terms of the Government Gazette, dated 25 March 2020 No. R 398 Disaster Management Act, 2002: Amendment of Regulations issued in terms of Section 27 (2) please find attached the list of essential services  industries which will be permitted to work during this nation lock down period commencing 26 March 2020 at 23:59.

Please be advised all persons employed at essential services, such as supermarkets, chemist's, hospitals, etc. must always have a letter on their person which must comply with the following:

  1. The letter must be an original official document on company letter head.

  2. The full name/'s, Surname, ID number and address of employee.

  3. The employer' s name and address.

  4. Business hours of the company.

  5. Name and contact number of Manager / Director.

  6. Original signature of Manager / Director.


This letter and ID/Drivers licence (any form of ID with a photo) must always be in possession of the employee.

If an essential company employs cleaners or security personnel, they must have the same letters from their companies.

If the company has a contract with a transport provider, that transport provider must also be in possession of a letter to state that reason.

Nurses and security personnel with appointment certificates which have a photo displayed may also use it as proof of identification.

KINDLY NOTE THAT WE WILL REMAIN OPERATIONAL AND AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES THROUGH THIS NATIONAL LOCK DOWN. YOU ARE WELCOME TO CONTACT US AS USUAL FOR ANY ASSISTANCE ON ALL MATTERS INCLUDING CLARITY ON THE ABOVE.

List of essential services  industries (PDF):

23rd Mar 2020

COVID-19 Lockdown: Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ON ESCALATION OF MEASURES TO COMBAT COVID-19 EPIDEMIC


UNION BUILDINGS, TSHWANE


23 MARCH 2020


My fellow South Africans,

It is a week since we declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and announced a package of extraordinary measures to combat this grave public health emergency.

The response of the South African people to this crisis has been remarkable.

Millions of our people have understood the gravity of the situation.

Most South Africans have accepted the restrictions that have been placed on their lives and have taken responsibility for changing their behaviour.

I am heartened that every sector of society has been mobilised and has accepted the role that it needs to play.

From religious leaders to sporting associations, from political parties to businesspeople, from trade unions to traditional leaders, from NGOs to public servants, every part of our society has come forward to confront this challenge.

Many have had to make difficult choices and sacrifices, but all have been determined that these choices and sacrifices are absolutely necessary if our country is to emerge stronger from this disaster.

Over the past week, South Africans have demonstrated their determination, their sense of purpose, their sense of community and their sense of responsibility.

For this, we salute you and we thank you.

On behalf of the nation, I would also like to thank the health workers, our doctors, nurses and paramedics who are on the frontline of the pandemic, our teachers, border officials, police and traffic officers and all the other people who have been leading our response.

Since the national state of disaster was declared, we have put in place a range of regulations and directives.

These regulations have restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6pm.

We reiterate that the most effective way to prevent infection is through basic changes in individual behaviour and hygiene.

We are therefore once more calling on everyone to:

-              wash hands frequently with hand sanitisers or soap and water for at least 20 seconds;

-              cover our nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow;

-              avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Everyone must do everything within their means to avoid contact with other people.

Staying at home, avoiding public places and cancelling all social activities is the preferred best defence against the virus.

Over the past week, as we have been implementing these measures, the global crisis has deepened.

When I addressed the nation last Sunday there were over 160,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide.

Today, there are over 340,000 confirmed cases across the world.

In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases has increased six-fold in just eight days from 61 cases to 402 cases.

This number will continue to rise.

It is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country.

Our fundamental task at this moment is to contain the spread of the disease.

I am concerned that a rapid rise in infections will stretch our health services beyond what we can manage, and many people will not be able to access the care they need.

We must therefore do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period – what is known as flattening the curve of infections.

It is essential that every person in this country adheres strictly – and without exception – to the regulations that have already been put in place and to the measures that I am going to announce this evening.

Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs us that we need to urgently and dramatically escalate our response.

The next few days are crucial.

Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands.

This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, with a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of HIV and TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.

We have learnt a great deal from the experiences of other countries.

Those countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease.

As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March.

This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.

The nation-wide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following:

-              From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home.

-              The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic. It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products. A full list of essential personnel will be published.

-              Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.

-              Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.

-              All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open.

We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.

Companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces, underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations.

Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.

-              Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.

The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society.

I have accordingly directed the South African National Defence Force be deployed to support the South African Police Service in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented.

This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.

Community health teams will focus on expanding screening and testing where people live, focusing first on high density and high-risk areas.

To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, a system will be put in place for ‘centralised patient management’ for severe cases and ‘decentralised primary care’ for mild cases.

Emergency water supplies – using water storage tanks, water tankers, boreholes and communal standpipes – are being provided to informal settlements and rural areas.

A number of additional measures will be implemented with immediate effect to strengthen prevention measures. Some of those measures are that:

-              South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries will automatically be placed under quarantine for 14 days.

-              Non-South Africans arriving on flights from high-risk countries we prohibited a week ago will be turned back.

-              International flights to Lanseria Airport will be temporarily suspended.

-              International travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9 March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine.

Fellow South Africans, our country finds itself confronted not only by a virus that has infected more than a quarter of a million people across the globe, but also by the prospects of a very deep economic recession that will cause businesses to close and many people to lose their jobs.

Therefore, as we marshal our every resource and our every energy to fight this epidemic, working together with business, we are putting in place measures to mitigate the economic impact both of this disease and of our economic response to it.

We are today announcing a set of interventions that will help to cushion our society from these economic difficulties.

This is the first phase of the economic response, and further measures are under consideration and will be deployed as needed.

These interventions are quick and targeted.

Firstly, we are supporting the vulnerable.

-              Following consultation with social partners, we have set up a Solidarity Fund, which South African businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community, can contribute to.

The Fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted.

The Fund will complement what we are doing in the public sector.

I am pleased to announce that this Fund will be chaired by Ms Gloria Serobe and the deputy Chairperson is Mr Adrian Enthoven.

The Fund has a website – www.solidarityfund.co.za – and you can begin to deposit monies into the account tonight.

The Fund will be administered by a reputable team of people, drawn from financial institutions, accounting firms and government.

It will fully account for every cent contributed and will publish the details on the website.

It will have a board of eminent South Africans to ensure proper governance.

To get things moving, Government is providing seed capital of R150 million and the private sector has already pledged to support this fund with financial contributions in the coming period.

We will be spending money to save lives and to support the economy.

In this regard, we must applaud the commitment made in this time of crisis by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families of R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

-              We are concerned that there are a number of businesses that are selling certain goods at excessively high prices. This cannot be allowed.

Regulations have been put in place to prohibit unjustified price hikes, to ensure shops maintain adequate stocks of basic goods and to prevent people from ‘panic buying’.

It is important for all South Africans to understand that the supply of goods remains continuous and supply chains remain intact.

Government has had discussions with manufacturers and distributors of basic necessities, who have indicated that there will be a continuous supply of these goods. There is therefore no need for stockpiling of any items.

-              A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown. More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place.

-              To alleviate congestion at payment points, old age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 01 April 2020.

All channels for access will remain open, including ATMs, retail point of sale devices, Post Offices and cash pay points.

Secondly, we are going to support people whose livelihoods will be affected.

-              We are in consultation on a proposal for a special dispensation for companies that are in distress because of COVID-19. Through this proposal employees will receive wage payment through the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme, which will enable companies to pay employees directly during this period and avoid retrenchment.

-              Any employee who falls ill through exposure at their workplace will be paid through the Compensation Fund.

-              Commercial banks have been exempted from provisions of the Competition Act to enable them to develop common approaches to debt relief and other necessary measures.

We have met with all the major banks and expect that most banks will put measures in place within the next few days.

-              Many large companies that are currently closed have accepted their responsibility to pay workers affected. We call on larger businesses in particular to take care of their workers during this period.

-              In the event that it becomes necessary, we will utilise the reserves within the UIF system to extend support to those workers in SMEs and other vulnerable firms who are faced with loss of income and whose companies are unable to provide support. Details of these will be made available within the next few days.

Thirdly, we are assisting businesses that may be in distress.

-              Using the tax system, we will provide a tax subsidy of up to R500 per month for the next four months for those private sector employees earning below R6,500 under the Employment Tax Incentive. This will help over 4 million workers.

-              The South African Revenue Service will also work towards accelerating the payment of employment tax incentive reimbursements from twice a year to monthly to get cash into the hands of compliant employers as soon as possible.

-              Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of less than R50 million will be allowed to delay 20% of their pay-as-you-earn liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months. This intervention is expected to assist over 75 000 small and medium-term enterprises.

-              We are exploring the temporary reduction of employer and employee contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and employer contributions to the Skill Development Fund.

-              The Department of Small Business Development has made over R500 million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress through a simplified application process.

-              The Industrial Development Corporation has put a package together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of more than R3 billion for industrial funding to address the situation of vulnerable firms and to fast-track financing for companies critical to our efforts to fight the virus and its economic impact.

-              The Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.

I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests.

We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.

I have directed that special units of the NPA be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption.

We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.

South Africa has a safe, sound, well-regulated and resilient financial sector.

Since the global financial crisis, we have taken steps to strengthen the banking system, including increasing capital, improving liquidity and reducing leverage.

With a strong financial sector and deep and liquid domestic capital markets, we have the space to provide support to the real economy.

We can make sure money flows to firms and households.

We can ensure that our markets are efficient.

Last week, in line with its Constitutional mandate, the South African Reserve Bank cut the repo rate by 100 basis point. This will provide relief to consumers and businesses.

The South African Reserve Bank has also proactively provided additional liquidity to the financial system.

The Governor has assured me that the Bank is ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure the financial sector operates well during this pandemic.

The banking system will remain open, the JSE will continue to function, the national payment system will continue to operate and the Reserve Bank and the commercial banks will ensure that bank notes and coins remain available.

The action we are taking now will have lasting economic costs.

But we are convinced that the cost of not acting now would be far greater.

We will prioritise the lives and livelihoods of our people above all else and will use all of the measures that are within our power to protect them from the economic consequences of this pandemic.

In the days, weeks and months ahead our resolve, our resourcefulness and our unity as a nation will be tested as never before.

I call on all of us, one and all, to play our part.

To be courageous, to be patient, and above all, to show compassion.

Let us never despair.

For we are a nation at one, and we will surely prevail.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.

God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.

Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.

I thank you.
23rd Mar 2020

COVID-19: National Disaster Benefit for Employees

The Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, has announced the highly anticipated measures that the Department will put in place to support and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on affected employees who are contributors to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Temporary Lay-Off

The National Disaster Benefit will be accessible to employers who, as a direct result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, decide to temporarily close their business. This will constitute a temporary lay-off. If the employer cannot pay his/her employees for this period, he/she can apply for the Benefit from the UIF. The Benefit will not be linked to the UIF’s normal benefit structure, and will be paid as a flat rate – irrespective of term of service – up to the minimum wage of R3,500 per employee for the duration of the temporary business closure or a maximum of three months, whichever is the shorter period. This Benefit may not be used concurrently with any other UIF benefit.

The following documents are required when applying for this benefit:

  • UI19 and UI2.7 (completed by Employer)

  • UI2.1 (application form)

  • UI2.8 (bank form completed by the bank)

  • A letter from the Employer confirming company shutdown or employee’s “temporary lay-off” is due to the Corona Virus

  • Copy of employee’s ID document


Should an employee fall ill or is temporarily laid off or unemployed for longer than three months, the normal UIF benefits as below will apply.

Reduced Work Time

Should the business remain operational but implement Reduced Work Time, the Benefit payable to the employee will be the difference between what the employer pays and the UIF benefits should the employee lose employment.

The following documents are required when applying for this benefit:

  • UI19 and UI2.7 (completed by Employer)

  • UI2.1 (application form)

  • UI2.8 (bank form completed by the bank)

  • A letter from the Employer confirming Reduced Work Time is due to the Corona Virus

  • Copy of employee’s ID document


For every 4 days worked the employee accumulates 1 credit day, and maximum credit days payable is 365 for every four completed years. Normal UIF benefits are paid as per the prescribed benefits structure from 239 to 365 days.

Illness Benefits/Quarantine (Special Leave)

Where an employee needs to be quarantined for 14 days, the Illness Benefit process will apply. A Confirmation Letter from both the employer and the employee must be submitted along with the application as proof that both the employer and employee agree to the quarantine (special leave). In this instance the letters will stand in place of the medical certificate normally required for the Illness Benefit as self-quarantined will be entered into without prior consultation with a medical practitioner. However, should an employee be quarantined for more than 14 days, a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner must be submitted along with the Continuation Form UI3.

The following documents are required when applying for this benefit:

  • UI19 and UI2.7 (completed by Employer)

  • UI2.2 (a portion of which is completed by the Doctor)

  • UI2.8 (bank form completed by the bank)

  • Employer Declaration

  • Employee Declaration

  • Copy of employee’s ID document


For every 4 days worked the employee accumulates 1 credit day, and maximum credit days payable is 365 for every four completed years. Normal UIF benefits are paid as per the prescribed benefits structure from 239 to 365 days.

Application forms can also be downloaded from the Department of Employment and Labour website: www.labour.gov.za

In the event where more than 50 employees are being retrenched, the Department has established Rapid Response Teams to assist companies to process the applications. The teams will be deployed to the employer’s premises in each province and employers are requested to contact their local labour offices to arrange appointments.