Ebrahim Patel: Domestic workers may return to work under Level 3

Minister of Trade and Industry, during a National coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) briefing on Thursday 28 May, gave the go-ahead for domestic workers to return to work under Level 3 lockdown.

Patel said the return is permitted as long as safety regulations and protocols are followed.

DOMESTIC WORKERS MAY RETURN TO WORK 

After a long wait, domestic workers are finally allowed to return to work and generate an income. Patel also mentioned that most other industries would make a return under Level 3. 

Apart from restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities, most other industries will return to the grind. Restaurants can sell food, have it delivered and customers may collect but they cannot host a sit-down meal. 

Local governments can operate close to full operation. Council meetings and gatherings can also resume with strict social distancing, hygiene and health measures. 

“Almost our entire workforce will be back at work, but those who can work from home are encouraged to do so,” said Patel. 

“Special care must be taken for those over 60 and those with comorbidities,” he added. 

Patel also encouraged citizens to continue to order online and to work from home where possible.  

WORKPLACE PROTOCOL 

Patel says what needs to be done at workplaces should be clear to everybody. 

The following protocols must remain in place for workplaces under Level 3. Some of them will also be applicable to the return of domestic workers.

  • Employers must ensure that the 1.5 metres distance is maintained amongst employees;
  • Limit the number of people in the workplaces, so that we minimise the chance of infection;
  • Health and sanitation services must be readily available to employees; 
  • Masks must be worn and surfaces must be disinfected; and
  • Businesses must have a dedicated sanitation officer responsible for ensuring compliance with health guidelines.

UIF COLLECTIONS

On 15 May, the Department of Employment and Labour was making all efforts to reach domestic workers and farm labourers so that they could benefit from the COVID-19 relief scheme — this, obviously because they were not permitted to work. 

The call included making sure they apply and receive Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits. 

The Department said it is doing everything in its power to help those who are vulnerable, during the lockdown, including domestic workers.

“Society is judged by how it tries to take care of the most vulnerable in its midst. This is why as the government in general and the Department of Employment and Labour in particular, are doing everything in their power to shield the most vulnerable from the worst of the pandemic,” said Minister of Unemployment and Labour Thulas Nxesi. 



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