Given the recent spread of COVID-19 to various parts of the world, including South Africa; the 21-day lockdown declared on 26th March 2020 and; the subsequent extension and move to risk-based levels, our focus now is on how to get our employees, visitors and workers/contractors safely back into the workspace. There are long-term impacts on the future of office space as we know it and through our research on best practice around the world, applicable laws and regulations, and discussions with our clients, we have developed this guideline to assist in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in office and work environments. As an employer of thousands of employees, we are committed to providing and maintaining (as far as is reasonably practical) a safe workspace where the risks to the health of our workers, customers, contractors, clients and the general public are reduced.
It is vital that the manufacturing, supply or provision of essential goods or services, as defined in the prevailing regulations contained in the Disaster Management Act, is consulted when considering the return of employees to the workplace. Given the recent state of disaster, it is understandable that employers and employees are feeling vulnerable. It is important to implement measures in the workplace that ensure employees feel valued and protected. Although the return to work will be gradual and phased, it is essential that all risks are considered and planned for. Changing employee behaviour, implementing new cleaning and hygiene routines, establishing social distancing, and implementing best practice from lessons learnt around the world is an important factor contributing to the successful reopening of any premises.
This document provides guidelines for the management of employees returning to work following the COVID-19 South African lockdown and is focused on the following key requirements:
- Employer’s Responsibilities: policies for deciding who returns, employee communications and awareness posters, visitor policies.
- Employee’s Responsibilities: reporting illness, working safely, obeying rules.
- Routine Cleaning: open doors, clean desk policy, cleaning common areas, cleaning schedules.
- Social Distancing: enforce physical distancing in the workplace, office spacing.
- Maintenance Management: natural ventilation, HVAC and heating, equipment checks.
- Meetings: meeting guidelines, ventilation, seating arrangements, attendance register records.
Download the full workplace readiness recovery guidelines document here, together with the cornerstone of workplace readiness poster that provides an easy, digestible and convenient summary of the guidelines.
We are all in this together.
This guideline is not intended to act as a summary of the regulations, or offer legal or medical advice. We encourage you to refer to the full regulations for further direction and implementation.