Vulnerable employees who cannot work from home and cannot be accommodated in the workplace present a financial burden for employers where a large portion of their workforce may seek to make use of sick leave or annual leave until such a time as it is safe for them to return to work. The provisions of the Guidance Document on Vulnerable Employees published by the Department of Health on 25 May 2020 (Guidance Document) provides that unpaid leave is not recommended and should to be used as a measure of last resort.
What does an employer do when they cannot afford to pay vulnerable employees who cannot return to work? Is the Guidance Document binding on employers? What alternatives are available to employers where they cannot accommodate vulnerable employees in the workplace in the foreseeable future? Fiona Leppan, a Director in the Employment practice and Avinash Govindjee, a Consultant in the Employment practice and the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Nelson Mandela University, discuss this and more.
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