It is important that all employers have in place a sound workplace policy that deals with COVID-19. Invictus has drawn up a best practice policy which employers may use as a starting point.
1. Objective of the policy
1.1 The policy aim is to ensure a safe working environment for all employees and to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is a requirement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that the employer must provide employees with a healthy, safe, and hazard-free working environment.
1.2 People who contract COVID-19 may take anywhere from one to 14 days to develop symptoms. Even if you do not have a history of travel to a COVID-19 affected region or contact with an individual who has contracted the illness, you must still inform your healthcare provider if you present with symptoms of COVID-19.
2.1 This Policy will apply to all employees of the company without exception.
3.1 How does Covid-19 spread?
COVID-19 spreads quickly, through:
- Coughing or sneezing – one can contract COVID-19 if one is standing within two meters of a person who has the illness by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by the ill person.
- Close personal contact, such as when shaking hands or touching others.
- Touching an object or surface on which the virus is found (after an ill person coughs or exhales close to these objects or surfaces such as desks, tables or telephones), then – before washing the hands – touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are as follows:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Aches and Pains
- Diarrhoea and Vomiting
- Loss of Smell or taste
- Sore Throat
- Chest Pains
3.3 What to do if you develop symptoms
- Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are advised to seek medical treatment and diagnosis as soon as possible.
- Employees with acute respiratory illness or other symptoms are advised to stay home for at least 10-14 days, and not come to work until they are cleared for work by a registered medical practitioner.
- It is important to note that for an employee to qualify for sick leave, a valid medical certificate booking them off will be required.
- Employees should notify their supervisor/manager and stay home if they are sick and have been booked off.
- All employees should follow the company’s sick leave policy in such situations.
- If the company has reason to suspect that an employee has been infected with COVID-19 or an employee becomes ill at work during the day, the Employer will request the employee to leave the workplace and seek medical treatment and or testing immediately.
- If the employer has instructed the employee to seek medical treatment or testing, the employer will be financially liable if the employee does not have medical aid. If this instruction is not followed, it will be regarded as gross insubordination and disciplinary steps will be taken as it could put other employees at risk. You may also be subject to prosecution under the Law.
3.4 Quarantine and working from home
If an employee has been to a high-risk area through travel and chooses to quarantine themselves without a Doctor’s note, the employee may apply for annual leave during this period, or if it is at all possible, arrange with the company to perform their duties from home. If an employee has a family member or a person sharing their living quarters diagnosed with COVID-19, the employee should immediately inform the company and get medical treatment or get tested immediately.
The employee will not be allowed back at work until they have been cleared by a registered medical practitioner. If at all possible, arrangements should be made to work from home until you are medically cleared. If you need to take care of a family member who has contracted the virus, Family responsibility leave will apply as per its definition or you can apply for annual leave.
3.5 Hygiene in the workplace
The Company commits to routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. The company will use the cleaning agents capable of disinfecting these surfaces. (soapy water will also suffice). It is required that employees acquire 70% alcohol-based hand sanitiser and frequently sanitise their hands or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds throughout the day.
If an employee coughs or sneezes, the person must cover their nose or mouth with a tissue or cough into the bend of the elbow to stop the spreading of droplets released.
3.6 Wearing face masks
Workers must wear masks at work. Employers must also require members of the public entering a workplace to wear masks.
Employers must provide each employee, free of charge, with at least two cloth masks to wear while at work or commuting. The onus is on the wearer to wash and dry these cloth masks daily. Ultimately, the employer remains responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of PPEs. Where a risk assessment indicates, workers must be provided with alternative appropriate PPE (eg N95 or N97 masks) to provide a greater level of protection. Every workplace must be well ventilated to reduce the viral load.
In relation to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), employers must keep up to date with recommendations from agencies such as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the National Institute for Occupational Health on the appropriate steps to take to prevent transmission in their workplaces and for the provision of PPE.
3.8 Every employer must:
- Must notify workers of the contents of the regulations and directives and how they will be implemented.
- They must inform employees that if they have COVID 19 symptoms they must not be at work and must self-isolate for 10-14 days and be granted paid sick leave or apply for COVID19 TERS benefits.
- The employer must appoint a manager (from within the existing structure) to address the concerns of employees and workplace representatives. Under section 16.5 of the OHS Act.
- They must take measures to minimise the contact between workers and between workers and the public to prevent transmission.
- They must minimise the number of workers in the workplace at any time through shift or working arrangements to achieve social distancing.
- The employer must provide employees with information concerning COVID19 and how to prevent its transmission.
- They must report any diagnosis of COVID19 at work to the Department of Health and the Department of Employment and Labour, investigate the cause, and take appropriate measures. It is a contravention not to do so as an employer.
- They must support any contact tracing measures initiated by the Department of Health.
4. Consequence of breach
4.1 If an employee breaches this policy the necessary disciplinary action will be taken. It is important to note that the company’s sick leave policy will not be adjusted or become flexible during the outbreak of COVID-19. The normal sick leave policy which is in line with Labour Law will still apply.
5.1 There is overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is the best defence against serious infections. Vaccines do not give you the virus, rather it teaches your immune system to recognise and fight the infection. The COVID-19 vaccine presents the body with instructions to build immunity and does not alter human cells.
5.2 Vaccine have reduced the morbidity and mortality of infectious diseases such as smallpox, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, measles, tetanus, whooping cough and pneumococcal conjugate across the world.
5.3 Vaccinating enough people would help create herd immunity and stamp out the disease.
- A survey will be conducted to ascertain which employees will choose not to be vaccinated.
- Those who choose this option will be counselled, and internal policies will determine their continued / alternate employment.
- All categories of employees are planned to be vaccinated.
- Employees will be provided with paid time off to be vaccinated, provided an employee shows proof of vaccination. It is the employee’s responsibility to contact management should he/she have any queries.
Employers are reminded that Invictus Group will operate as normal during this time and that we are available for further assistance and guidance. Employers are welcome to contact our Call Centre on 0861 737 263 or alternatively speak to their account manager for further assistance.