Dealing with isolation, sick leave and absenteeism amid COVID-19

Employers and employees seem unsure of their rights and obligations in circumstances where employees continue coming in to the workplace, work from home or self-isolate.  This is of course completely understandable because we are faced with a unique situation and are all finding our way as the pandemic develops while trying to do our parts to #flattenthecurve.  Below are a few points to bear in mind: 

  1. Both employers and employees have obligations in relation to maintaining health and safety in the workplace; 
  1. If employees can perform their job functions effectively from home and the employer would prefer them to work from home, these employees are entitled to receive their salaries;
  1. Employers are entitled to set reasonable service level requirements and/or expectations from employees in 2 above to ensure that work is being done and salaries are being earned;  
  1. Healthy employees, who self-isolate should be paid if they can perform their job function from home and if the employer agrees to it.  Once again reasonable service level requirements and/or expectations can be set;
  1. Employees who self-isolate, and are unable to perform their job function from home due to the nature of the work they ordinarily do, are only entitled to be paid if they produce a medical certificate from a doctor recommending self-isolation and if they have sufficient paid sick leave due to them;   
  1. Employees in 5 above, who have no, or insufficient, paid sick leave due to them can apply for UIF illness benefits if their confinement is in excess of fourteen (14) days; and
  1. Remember that all legal and internal policy obligations and requirements continue to apply in cases of non-COVID-19 related illness and absenteeism from work. 

Naturally, should our government impose lockdown measures the above could change, but we haven’t reached that stage yet. 

Employers in industries where trade has already been limited due to the nature of the business, for example the hospitality industry, are encouraged to contact our offices so that we can discuss your various options with you.

If you have any questions, or if you are faced with a situation not covered above, please feel free to contact our offices.