There are several concerns on the mind of those employees who will be picking up tools soon, none more so than who will care for their children or dependent whilst they are away at work.
With the restricted movement of persons during the period of lockdown, leaving your child or dependent in the care of another person is not straight forward. There are restrictions on moving children and other persons between districts, and there are limited circumstances which permit their movement.
So, can a caregiver then return to work to provide care for your dependent? In short, yes.
Section 16 of the Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act dated 29 April 2020 by the Minister of Cooperative Governance, and Traditional Affairs (‘the Regulations’) addresses this.
Section 16 of the Regulations notes that a person may leave their place of residence under specific circumstances, one such being to perform essential or permitted services as allowed in Alert Level 4. Part N of Table 1 of the Regulations notes that “Private households’ employment” categorised as ‘live-in staff, and staff providing care to the sick, mentally ill, elderly, people with disabilities and children’ are persons who are permitted to perform work outside the home and to travel to and from work.
There are a few considerations to be had prior to a caregiver returning to work.
First and foremost, travel to and from work will be subject to:
- Strict health protocols and social distancing rules,
- Return to work to be phased in to enable measures to make the workplace COVID-19 ready, and
- Return to work to be done in a matter that avoids and reduces risks of infection.
Further, every person is required to be confined to his or her place of residence from 20h00 until 05h00 daily. The caregiver will, thus, require enough time to return to their usual place of residence by 19h00.
Importantly, the caregiver must be furnished in writing with a form which corresponds with Form 2 in Annexure A of the regulations. This form will set out the details of the employer and their business address (which is the address that the caregiver will be permitted to travel to carry out work) and the details of the employee which includes the identity number and place of residence of the employee (which will allow the employee to return home).
An employee will be required to carry and present a form of identification and the permit if requested to do so by an authorised individual. Should the employee fail to do so, then the employee will be requested to return to his or her place of residence.
One last aspect to remember is that you are the employer, and as such, you will be required to ensure that the working environment of the employee is safe to return to. You will be required to ensure that all risks of contracting COVID-19 have been adequately and appropriately dealt with to ensure your employee’s safety.
Further, you will be required to provide your employee with personal protective gear, such as- inter alia– masks, gloves, sanitiser, soap and the access to running water. Your employee must be adequately informed as to the appropriate health and safety measures required to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it will be your obligation to ensure that the employee is adequately appraised on the same.
Lastly, it would be good practice to have policies, procedures and plans in place prior to the caregiver returning to work. Keep a safety file and retain any medical certificates which your employee presents to you. Have a system which the employee is aware of to ensure swift action in the event of a possible infection or possible spread of the infection and ensure that there is regular communication between yourself and the employee to maximise the effect of all procedures in place.
All items referred to on the Regulations can be found at https://ceosa.org.za/wp-content/uploads/Risk-Adjusted-Strategy-Regulations-29-April-2020-1.pdf
Article by: Avishkar Singh
Dispute Resolution Official – Durban