On 26 March 2020, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs announced an amendment to the category of “essential service providers” to include the finance/payroll department in businesses in order to ensure payments of employees across the county.
Government Gazette No. 11067, Vol 657 Section 6(e) must now be read to include: “implementation of payroll systems to the extent that such arrangement has not been made for the lockdown, to ensure timeous payments to workers.” In light of the above, payroll employees will now be deemed an essential service provider solely for the purpose to ensure that timeous payments of employees are made in light of the 21-day lockdown. This amended has been accepted with positivity in order to ensure that the wheel of the economy continues to turn.
Other services added to the list of essential services were:
- Tow trucks and vehicle recovery services;
- Call centres necessary to provide health, safety, social support, Government and financial services;
- Harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods; and
- Critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21days and are essential to resume operations after the lockdown.
It has, therefore, been confirmed that payroll officers may travel to their place of work but only to ensure that workers receive payments. Those persons will require a permit which must be kept on them at all times.
Employers must still be mindful of the Amendments to Regulation 11B regarding the restriction on the movement of person and goods which state: “all businesses and other entities shall cease operations… save where operations are provided from outside the Republic or can be provided remotely by a person from their normal place of residence.”
It is clear that employers are obliged, firstly to ensure that all employees are still paid timeously in light of the lockdown, and furthermore the regulations go further to emphasise that should a payroll department be able to fulfil their payment obligations remotely in light of Regulation 3(b) they must do so, instead of requiring payroll employees to attend work for purposes of fulfilling their payroll function.
It should be noted that all health and safety measures must be observed by all employers who are permitted to operate during this period.
Finally, we wish to advise our members that non-observance or attempts to circumvent the regulations by non-essential service providers is deemed to be a criminal offence, we urge CEO members to comply with all regulations and to contact your nearest CEO office in the event that you are unsure or have any queries/concerns regarding this issue.