The department of labour will soon formally publish special regulations offering Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) relief to companies that find themselves in distress due to the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa, a senior official has said.
In cases where a company is forced to shut down for a limited period as a precautionary response to the health crisis, the UIF benefit will apply. This is being done to prevent layoffs and ensure that employees receive payment.
The measures were mentioned by labour minister Thulas Nxesi earlier this week and the department has been drafting regulations to govern the process, Makhosonke Buthelezi, the director for communication and marketing at the UIF, confirmed.
He said these could be published on Friday.
In the case of a temporary closure, Buthelezi said, the employees will therefore qualify for benefits "as if they are unemployed" provided an application is filed for the special provision to take effect.
The department is also making provision for cases where employees have to practice self-quarantine for two weeks or longer because they have been exposed to the virus.
Their time off work will be recognised as special leave, provided it meets government health guidelines, and they will then be paid UIF benefits.
"We will be publishing guidelines on the department's website so that companies can apply," Buthelezi said.
The virus has killed more than 10 000 people worldwide. In South Africa the number of confirmed infections has risen to 202, the government said on Friday.