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Employers obligation when an employee has COVID-19

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Employers obligation when an employee has COVID-19

On 4 June 2020, the Minister of Employment and Labour published a consolidated COVID-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the Workplace. This Direction on 4 June replaced the previous Direction published on 28 April 2020 and shed light on numerous uncertainties relating to workplace safety and employer obligations during the current pandemic.

According to the directives, every employer is required to do the following when an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19:

  1. Inform the Department of Health by using the COVID-19 hotline at 080 002 9999
  2. Inform the Department of Employment and Labour
  3. Investigate the mode of exposure, including any control failure, and review its risk assessment to ensure that the necessary controls and PPE requirements are in place
  4. Determine the need to temporarily close the affected work area for decontamination using an incident-based risk assessment with due regard to the Department of Health’s Guidelines; and
  5. It must give administrative support to any contract-tracing measures implemented by the Department of Health

If an employee has been in contact with another employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the workplace, the employer must assess the exposure in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines to ascertain whether the exposure carries a high risk or low risk of transmission between the employees. If the employer determines that there was a low risk of exposure, the employee is to continue working using a face mask complying with standard precautions and the employer must monitor the employee’s symptoms for 14 days from the first contact. If the employer determines that there was a high risk of exposure, the employee must remain in quarantine for 14 days and the employer must place that employee on sick leave.

If an employee presents with COVID-19 related symptoms or advises the employer of these symptoms, the employer must:

  1. Not permit the employee to enter the workplace or report for work
  2. If the employee is already at work, immediately:
  • Isolate the employee, provide the employee with a surgical mask and arrange for the employee to be transported in a manner that does not place other employees or members of the public at risk, either to be self-isolated or to be referred for medical examination or testing; and
  • Assess the risk of transmission, disinfect the area and the applicable workstation, undertake contact tracing, refer those employees who may be at risk for screening, and take any other appropriate measures to prevent possible transmission
  • Place its employee on paid sick leave in terms of section 22 of the BCEA, or if sick leave entitlement is exhausted, make an application for an illness benefit in terms of the Directives issued on 25 March 2020 by using the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme
  • Ensure that the employee is not discriminated against on grounds of having tested positive for COVID-19 in terms of section 6 of the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act 55 of 1998);
  • If it is evident that the employee contracted COVID-19 arising out of and in the course of his/her employment, a claim for compensation in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 (Act 130 of 1993), in accordance with notice 193 published on 3 March 2020, should be lodged

If an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and isolated in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines, an employer may only allow an employee to return to work on the following conditions:

  1. The employee has completed the mandatory 14 days of self-isolation
  2. The employee has undergone a medical evaluation confirming fitness to work if the employee had a moderate or severe illness
  3. The employer ensures personal hygiene, wearing a mask, social distancing, and cough etiquette is strictly adhere to by the employee
  4. The employer closely monitors the employee for symptoms on return to work; and
  5. The employee wears a surgical mask for a minimum of 21 days from the date of diagnosis


We are able to assist with the drafting of such workplace safety plans which are tailor-made for small, medium and large businesses. Contact our offices or complete the form below:


Cape Town Office:
+27(0) 21 425-5570
[email protected]

Johannesburg Office
Telephone: +27(0) 11 268 6697
Email:[email protected]


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2020-07-10T21:07:24+02:00July 10th, 2020|COVID-19, Labour Law, Uncategorized|