This article assumes that the employee does not exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.
Sick leave is regulated by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). According to the BCEA, an employee is entitled to sick leave when the “employee was unable to work for the duration of the employee’s absence on account of sickness or injury”.
The BCEA clearly does not include an employee whose spouse tests positive for COVID-19 as a valid reason for taking sick leave.
In the current situation with the world battling the pandemic many employers are rightly being cautious and are encouraging employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to remain home and not to come to work. If the employee can work from home, they should be allowed to do so and employers should pay the employee their normal wage.
If the employee cannot work from home employers should consider the following discretionary options:
• Allowing the employee to take available paid annual leave during the period of absence;
• Alternatively, allowing the employee to take paid sick leave during the period of absence;
• Alternatively, allowing the employee to take unpaid leave during the period of absence;
It is important to carefully consider where the instruction/request for the employee not to come to work originated as well as where the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 happened.
Where the employee’s absence is due to the employer’s instruction or policy the employer will have a higher responsibility to ensure that the employee is compensated during his absence.
Where the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 happened at the workplace or during the execution of his duties the employer will also have a higher responsibility to ensure that the employee is compensated during his absence.
Each situation must be judged on its own set of circumstances and merits.
Employers are advised to contact their nearest SEESA office for advice specific to their circumstances should they encounter this situation in their workplaces.
To find out how SEESA can help your business visit our website for more: