29 June 2020 by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Employment Alert

Are you prepared for a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace?

With the number of active cases on the rise and more workplaces re-opening, it is inevitable that a worker may present with symptoms related to COVID-19. It is imperative that employers are prepared for such an event and that employers act decisively to limit the risk of transmission in the workplace.

Paragraph 27 of the Consolidated COVID-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the Workplace published on 4 June 2020 details the steps an employer must take where a worker presents with symptoms related to COVID-19. 

  1. Do not permit entry to the workplace or allow the worker to report to work.
    • Where an employee is asymptomatic and can work from home, the employee must continue to do so.
    • Where an employee is asymptomatic and cannot work from home, the employee must apply for sick leave.
  2. If the worker is already at work.
    • Immediately isolate the worker.
    • Provide the worker with a surgical mask.
    • Arrange transportation for the worker in a manner that doesn't present a transmission risk to other workers or to members of the public. An employer may need to bear this cost.
    • Worker to self-isolate or to be referred for medical examination or testing.
    • Assess the transmission risk to other workers as well as surfaces.
    • Disinfect the area/surfaces which the worker who screened positive was in contact with, including their workstation.
    • Undertake contact tracing in the workplace to establish all those whom the worker who screened positive may have been in contact with.
    • Refer all workers who were in contact with the worker who screened positive for screening.
    • Take any other appropriate measures to prevent transmission.
    • Where it’s an employee who has screened positive, place the employee on sick leave or apply for an illness benefit for the employee where their sick leave is exhausted.
    • Ensure employees are not subject to discrimination where they screen/test positive for COVID-19.
    • Lodge a claim for compensation in terms of COIDA where there is evidence that an employee contracted COVID-19 arising from the course and scope of their employment.

*Worker is defined in the Consolidated Directive as follows: “worker” means any person who works in an employer’s workplace including an employee or contractor, a self-employed person or volunteer.

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