The Director-General of the Department of Employment and Labour, Thobile Lamati, says workplace inspections in line with Level 4 of the lockdown regulations will vary according to the staff component.

Lamati says inspections at various workplaces, preparing for the return of employees since the amended lockdown regulations, are being done strictly by the book.

He says, “The inspection depends on the ratio per inspector, it depends because companies are not the same. So if you have to inspect a small company, you could be doing four inspections per day. But, if you have to inspect a big company, you could be doing one inspection a day or you could be doing one inspection a week depending on the size that you are inspecting and the issues that you are looking at as the inspector.”

In the video below, Labour and Employment Chief Inspector, Tibor Szana, speaks about the workplace safety guidelines and technical aspects:

Health and Safety

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi says in respect of workers who are required to work in this period, employers are required to ensure that the Occupational Health and Safety Act is adhered to in respect of occupational hygiene and the provision of personal protective equipment.

Through a statement, Nxesi says in response to numerous complaints from workers that some employers are forcing them to work without the necessary personal protective equipment, Labour Inspectors are following up the complaints, particularly in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

He says a number of retail and manufacturing enterprises have been temporarily closed because of for lack of PPEs and failure to ensure social distancing.

Nxesi says, “Our inspectors are being accompanied by SAPS and Department of Trade and Industry officials. The reason for the latter is that there is evidence of some employers having obtained fraudulent certificates declaring that they can continue to operate as essential services.”

He adds: “The Labour Inspectorate reports daily to me on their findings. At this stage, we are urging non-compliant employers to do the right thing. If the situation persists, we will start to name and shame individual companies and branches.”

In the video below, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi gives guidelines to workers returning to work:

Employees forced to work

Nxesi says it appears that some employers who are not delivering essential services and goods are forcing their employees to work.

He says, “Employers are either unaware or choose to ignore the provisions of the National Disaster legislation and regulations which only provide for essential services and production to continue at this time. In terms of Regulation 11G, this is a criminal offence and puts at risk not only those employees, but all who they are in contact with and goes against the call for as many of us as possible to stay at home.”

Nxesi says any employee who is not involved in a business delivering essential services and goods and who is forced to work is entitled to contact the South African Police Service and report their employer.

“Any worker who does this and is subsequently victimised will be protected by the Labour Relations Act since this will is an unfair labour practice. I further call on employer organisations to intensify their communication to individual employers informing them of their responsibilities during this critical period.”

INFOGRAPHIC: Lockdown level 4: