Ministerial Briefing on COVID-19 Information for Employers

South African Engineers’ and Founders’ Association

24 March 2020

Some of the key points emerging from today’s inter-ministerial briefing as these may affect members are as follows:

  • Businesses exempted from the lockdown include any businesses involved in the following:
    • The food supply chain from production to distribution
    • Water supply and sanitation
    • Generation and/or distribution of electricity
    • Key maintenance systems needed to avoid serious damage to economic assets, where the interruption to that service could destroy critical working areas or machinery
    • Only essential staff involved in the above are permitted to work
  • Labour matters:
    • Normal worker rights under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), such as sick leave and annual leave continue to apply (as per previous advice dispensed)
    • Nedlac is presently negotiating special leave conditions
    • Workers who fall ill are covered by COIDA in the normal manner
    • UIF – the existing illness benefits, provisions on reduced working time will apply
    • UIF will also compensate workers through a new National Disaster Benefit, more details of which will be available tomorrow, including how this will be administered
    • The administration of these funds will include working through the MEIBC and/or MIBFA, with strict conditions
    • The UIF will also fund the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS), which will provide subsidies to distressed companies, to help cover workers’ wages during the lockdown – conditions will apply and the CCMA will oversee this programme, with more information becoming available tomorrow
    • Companies can obtain application forms from either the UIF website (www.ufiling.co.za) or the TERS via email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • UIF Easy Guide for Employers (previously distributed to members) continues to apply
    • UIF will only cover employees who contribute and a dedicated line for companies and workers will also be made available in due course
  • Various other key interventions involving the IDC are currently being worked on and include various measures to provide assistance to distressed companies:
    • Existing IDC clients are being contacted by the IDC and further details on these programmes will appear on the IDC website later today
    • Banks will be developing measures to help small businesses and firms in distress to provide debt relief, including additional credit lines to individuals and businesses, with further details being published in the Government Gazette tomorrow
  • Small Business Development:
    • The Small Business Development Minister stressed that it was fake news that a small business had to be 51% black owned to qualify for relief, as has been widely reported
    • Criteria for assistance, however, includes being
      • 100% South African owned
      • Must employ 70% or more RSA citizens
      • SARS compliant
      • Registered on the National Database (www.smmesa.gov.za)
      • On 1 April 2020, assistance to be given to SMMEs will be detailed (presumably in a Government Gazette)
      • For more info, call 0860 663 7867

Details on all of the above will be forthcoming and will be shared as soon as it becomes available.