Ensure your compliance: What you need to know about the mandated Covid-19 Health and Safety Regulations for a phased return to work

As South Africa moves between Covid-19 pandemic “Alert Levels”, it is critical that your company is compliant with the mandated health and safety regulations, regardless of what level of lockdown we are in. While the categories of industries allowed to operate under each level may differ, the requirement for compliance will not change. All companies in operation need to have adequate health and safety policies in place. 

Companies across the country will see a phased return of employees at varying lockdown levels, and it is critical that management at these companies implement policies aligned to the regulations as well as the government’s directions regarding health and safety in the workplace. Failure to comply with the regulations set throughout the various alert levels not only has legal ramifications, but may also backtrack our progress gained in flattening the curve as we fight to contain the spread of the new novel coronavirus in South Africa.

It is an offence if “any person” fails to comply or contravenes the Regulations. This includes the entity as a juristic person (where the company fails to follow the Regulations), its board of directors and/or the public officer responsible for acting in the best interests of the entity (which includes ensuring compliance with all applicable laws), as per Regulation 31. 

In accordance with the Government Gazette 43258, 29 April 2020, all companies which are returning to work must develop a plan for the phased-in return of their employees to the workplace, prior to reopening the workplace for business. This plan must detail the following: 

  • which employees are permitted to work;
  • what the plans for the phased-in return of their employees to the workplace are;
  • what health protocols are in place to protect employees from COVID-19; and
  • the details of the COVID -19 compliance officer.

In response to these Regulations and to aid companies in their return to work, LNP Attorney’s has drafted a compliance policy which is available for purchase. Implementation of this policy will ensure your company adheres to the necessary regulations. 

In addition to and in support of the regulations, businesses must designate a COVID-19 compliance officer who will oversee the implementation of this policy. It is important to note that the responsibility for developing the plan rests with the business; the compliance officer’s responsibility is limited to overseeing the implementation of the plan, and overseeing the adherence to the standards of hygiene and health protocols relating to COVID-19 at the workplace. By providing a compliance policy document, LNP Attorneys can provide your company and its compliance officer with peace of mind. 

If the compliance officer is found to be negligent or reckless in the performance of their obligations under the Act, then they will be liable for a contravention. However, the non-compliance will be limited to the obligations taken on as the compliance officer (ie., plan implementation, and not plan development).

The full regulations as set out in the Government Gazette are available online here. If you are interested in purchasing the compliance policy, please email [email protected]