These are certainly trying times for all business owners worldwide. The challenges are numerous and include cash flow, planning in a fast-changing environment and the strategy going forward after the Covid-19 pandemic.

As devastating as the loss of life is, the bigger challenge will be to ensure that there are viable businesses to which staff can return after this national lockdown.

Many businesses are struggling to make ethical decisions about their workforce given their current financial constraints, while still complying with the Labour Relations Act.

What are the most frequently asked labour-related questions by business owners? 

  • Do I have to pay my staff during this lockdown period?
  • Can I force my staff to take annual leave or unpaid leave?
  • Under which circumstances can I enforce salary cuts?
  • How do I handle retrenchments during this period?
  • Are there circumstances under which staff can claim from the UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund)? What are they?
  • Will the Workmen’s Compensation Fund assist staff in the case of work-related infections?
  • Are my company’s labour contracts up to date?
  • How do I amend my company’s policies to make provision for the unique situation where staff need to work from home?

The legal team at SERR Synergy has already addressed some of these frequently asked questions in the following series of blogs:

We expect that the CCMA and labour courts will be flooded with cases after this lockdown ends. If you follow the guidelines set out in the Labour Relation Act now, you won’t be one of those businesses that will need to compensate staff treated unfairly in the next few months. The latter may affect your cash flow when you will need it most.

Government has already announced measures and indicated the introduction of further assistance, especially to smaller businesses, in an attempt to alleviate the constraints imposed by COVID-19.  We will keep businesses informed of such measures.

Apart from being affordable, SERR Synergy’s Labour Pro product  is an integrated labour and industrial relations service for businesses. Our professional labour advisors / consultants guide and assist businesses in proactive and supportive ways with regard to the required processes and procedures to ensure compliance with labour legislation and to mitigate the risks to which businesses are exposed in relation to employment issues.

We have a fair but firm approach to dealing with:

  • Drafting or updating labour contracts;
  • Assisting with disciplinary processes;
  • Drafting or amending company policies;
  • Dispute resolution at the CCMA;
  • Retrenchment, lay-off and short-time processes;
  • Strike and union negotiations;
  • Workmen’s Compensation registrations;
  • UIF registrations and claim processes.

Throughout these processes we need to bear in mind that your staff’s loyalty after this pandemic will depend on how you treat them during this stressful time. Companies that are honest and fair with their staff and communicate with them will come out on the other side of this challenge with a much stronger team.

As Simon Sinek quote: “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”  

Stay positive – Stay safe!

About the author: Duncan Cloete has been the Pretoria Corporate Marketing Manager at SERR Synergy since 2017. Starting his career in the automotive industry, he worked his way up from sales executive to dealer principal where he was involved both strategically and operationally in sales, marketing and client satisfaction. His previous involvement with B-BBEE verification added to his broad spectrum of B-BBEE knowledge. With more than 5 years’ service at SERR Synergy in the B-BBEE environment, he has consulted with thousands of business owners ranging from small start-up companies to large international entities seeking solutions to their B-BBEE challenges.

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