South African Engineers’ and Founders’ Association

25 March 2020

In announcing the lockdown a few days ago, President Ramaphosa stated that certain categories of businesses will be exempt from the lockdown.  These businesses should continue to operate in order to provide critical products and services to the country.  It has been announced that an official list of categories will be released later today. 

Please note that the lockdown applies to all businesses and that the list of exclusions will refer to specific critical business activities only.  Therefore, should an activity of any business not be listed, such activity must be ceased as per the lockdown regulations.

However, should your business form part of the supply chain in a critical area, you will be permitted to continue, subject to continuing to observe social distancing and suitable Occupational Health and Safety rules to prevent the spreading of the virus.

In the interim, employers are advised to provide their employees with a letter of confirmation.  A template for this purpose is available on request.

16 March 2020

The Ministerial Task Team dealing with the Corona Virus outbreak briefed the media this morning on Government’s plans to deal with the State of Disaster as announced by the President yesterday.  From an employment law perspective, what was announced was that Government, Community, Business and Labour are meeting this afternoon at 14h00 to discuss plans to deal with the effects of the Corona Virus outbreak on business.  The plan at this stage is that each industry will be tasked with formulating a plan which will be intended to enable companies and employees to cope going forward. 

Minister of Employment and Labour, Mr Thulas Nxesi, stated the following:

  • Employers and employees are “reminded” to take cognisance of the guidelines issues by the President
  • Employers will be required to safeguard their employees, but that the details of this “cannot be discussed” until such time as further meetings between Government, Business and Labour have taken place
  • Guidelines will be developed to deal with employees who travel across borders in the course of their employment
  • Discussions are ongoing with the Workman’s Compensation Fund around the possibility of employees claiming from the fund in the event of becoming infected in the course of employment

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

11 March 2020

Section 185 of the Labour Relations Act gives all employees the right not to be unfairly dismissed yet many employers still make fundamental mistakes when taking corrective action against their employees.

The key to successful workplace discipline starts with understanding the principles of progressive discipline, thorough and effective preparation for disciplinary enquiries and ensuring you know the procedural requirements to ensure fairness. 

SAEFA, is presenting a full day workshop that will take you, step-by-step, through the disciplinary process and guide employers through the legislative requirements of the Labour Relations Act. 

See below for details:

Effective Discipline Workshop Flyer

24 March 2020

As you are now aware, President Ramaphosa has announced the implementation of a nation-wide, 21-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020.  All businesses will be closed, with certain exceptions, a list of which will be released on due course by the Presidency.  It is important to note that during his address, the President stipulated that companies whose operations required continuous processes, such as furnaces and underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage.  Clarity on this will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Members are advised that during this lockdown period, the principle of "no work, no pay" will apply.  Furthermore, no shifts will accumulate to employees towards the calculation of Leave Pay and Leave Enhancement Pay.  Although the President acknowledged that many “large companies” who had already closed were paying their employees and that other companies, particularly large ones, would be called upon to consider doing the same, it is generally accepted that not all companies will be in a position to pay employees whilst they are at home.  In this regard, a proposal, currently being considered, is that employees of businesses unable to afford to pay employees during this time will receive wage payments through the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).  

9 March 2020

We have resolved to provide SAEFA members with a brief, easily-digestible summary of current developments in the sphere of skills development and are going to be sending out regular articles to keep members informed.  The aim of the articles is to cut through the noise, complexity and clouds of acronyms that often cause confusion. The focus will be on the key topics that will assist members to understand and access the skills development interventions that support their strategic objectives and enable them to benefit from merSETA funding available to facilitate their training activities.  Please see below the first article in the series, kindly written for us by skills development expert, Janet Lopes.

Skills Development Update No 1

21 March 2020

The Department of Employment and Labour issued guidelines to deal with COVID-19 at work places, please see below:

COVID-19 Guideline for the workplace

Easy Aid Guide for Employers

The Department recommends that employers:

  • Be cognizant if the prescriptions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the applicable regulations in safeguarding their workplaces;
  • Review and regularly update risk assessments, taking into account the new hazards posed by exposure to COVID-19;
  • Prepare as far in advance as possible for potentially worsening outbreak conditions; and
  • ‘go back to basics’ by conducting hazard identification and risk assessment, determine the level of risk exposure, and communicate with employees.

24 February 2020

As you are aware, SAEFA has successfully resisted numerous attempts by the trade unions and a minority of employer parties to extend the 2017 – 2020 Settlement Agreement on non-parties.  This has led to a situation where many of our members have been able to successfully arrest the haemorrhaging of jobs in their businesses, by implementing the SAEFA-led initiative of the introduction of a New Entrant Wage Structure.  Many of our members have done this with the full blessing of their existing staff, including shop stewards from various trade unions.

Following our Members meeting of 20 February 2020, we would like to remind you of the New Entrant Wage Structure, as proposed by us in the 2017 wage negotiations (attached).  Please share this information with any colleague that may need it in the industry – the more employers realise that they are no longer bound by unaffordable wage rates and terms and conditions of employment that are contrary to business growth (whilst still being fair on employees), the better.

SAEFA Wage Negotiation Advisory No 29