The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa have surpassed the 200 000 mark, and with more workplaces re-opening, it is inevitable that a worker may present with symptoms related to COVID-19. It is imperative that employers are prepared for such an event and act decisively to limit the risk of transmission in the workplace. “In addition to adhering to health and safety requirements, employers need to also observe strict legal regulations in accordance with the country’s labour laws to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all its employees,” says Aadil Patel, National Head of the Employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
CDH employment experts are available to comment on the steps required if an employee tests Covid-19 positive and have provided the below guidelines:
Paragraph 27 of the Consolidated COVID-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the Workplace published on 4 June 2020 details the steps an employer must take where a worker presents with symptoms related to COVID-19.
- Do not permit entry to the workplace or allow the worker to report to work.
- Where an employee is asymptomatic and can work from home, the employee must continue to do so.
- Where an employee is asymptomatic and cannot work from home, the employee must apply for sick leave.
- If the worker is already at work.
- Immediately isolate the worker.
- Provide the worker with a surgical mask.
- Arrange transportation for the worker in a manner that doesn’t present a transmission risk to other workers or to members of the public. An employer may need to bear this cost.
- Worker to self-isolate or to be referred for medical examination or testing.
- Assess the transmission risk to other workers as well as surfaces.
- Disinfect the area/surfaces which the worker who screened positive was in contact with, including their workstation.
- Undertake contact tracing in the workplace to establish all those whom the worker who screened positive may have been in contact with.
- Refer all workers who were in contact with the worker who screened positive for screening.
- Take any other appropriate measures to prevent transmission.
- Where it’s an employee who has screened positive, place the employee on sick leave or apply for an illness benefit for the employee where their sick leave is exhausted.
- Ensure employees are not subject to discrimination where they screen/test positive for COVID-19.
- Lodge a claim for compensation in terms of COIDA where there is evidence that an employee contracted COVID-19 arising from the course and scope of their employment.