COVID 19 OUTBREAK – EXIGENCY MEASURES
Members are well aware of the various measures taken to alleviate the Corona outbreak and the massive impact on businesses as well as the general working population. FRA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and issue out relevant circulars at appropriate times to assist our Members with the changing dynamics posed by the spread of Corona Virus. Furthermore FRA will post all circulars on our website page for easy future reference.
As pointed out in our previous circular, the Occupational Health and Safety Act place an express obligation on the employer to maintain a safe and healthy working environment. Within the context of Covid-19 there is a clear obligation on the employer to manage the risk of contamination in the workplace.
Failure to comply with such obligations may expose your business to a damages claim under the applicable laws.
In order to comply with the above obligation the following is strongly recommended:
Obligations of the Employees:
- Disclose all potential risks of exposure to the employer
- Self-isolate if there is any risk of exposure
- Disclose any positive testing of COVID-19 immediately
- It is a crime not to disclose a positive status and will be subject to penalties and incarceration
- It is compulsory to subject yourself to testing and isolation if requested to do so.
Extract form the Gazette as effective from 18 March 2020:
“(4) Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with COVID-19 is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment. (5) Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about— (a) COVID-19; (b) (c) COVID-19 infection status of any person; or any measure taken by the Government to address COVID-19, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.”
Obligations of the Employers
- Ensure that all surfaces are kept clean, regularly washed and disinfected.
- Promote regular hand-washing and make this compulsory
- Promote the keeping of safe distances amongst employees and customers.
- Provide Forecourt Attendants, Cashiers and Chars with disinfectants for use (by employee and customer) before and after contact with customers.
- Display safety notices where possible for employees and customers.
- Communicate the protocol and the potential disciplinary measures to your employees and train them sufficiently to understand your requirements.
- Make sure you inform any Trade Union if you have a unionized workforce so that they are aware of what you are doing. FRA will also forward this to NUMSA for transparency in communications.
- If employees are not complying with your protocol, implement disciplinary measures immediately. No employee may be at risk due to some employees being resistant to the measures.
Any employee that seems to be ill should be sent home immediately and instructed to self-quarantine for the required period of time and go for testing during this period. PLEASE REFER TO ANNEXURE A WITH REGARDS TO WORK PAY DURING SELF QUARANTINE PERIODS.
ASSIST YOUR EMPLOYEE TO RECEIVE FINANCIAL RELIEF THROUGH THE UNEMPLOYEMENT FUND – REFER ANNEXURE B. RESPECTIVE UIF FORMS ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR.
Should you have a positive case in your work environment, all staff should be informed of the potential exposure and should be instructed to self-isolate and get tested. Ensure to avoid complete shutdown and to minimise business financial impact, FRA recommends that you group your shifts with the same staff consistently so that you do not have to send the entire staff at once for self-isolation and testing. Always ensure that your working environment is cleaned and disinfected before any shift change. If possible give each remaining employee an equal opportunity to work over-time hours. Please note that FRA cannot be prescriptive on this as different businesses will encounter different challenges and it is the prerogative of the employer to make suitable alternative adjustments according to each business needs
We have also received a number of queries from members regarding the possibility of working short time and the processes to follow in this regard are contained in the MIBCO Main Agreement.
The Main Agreement for the Motor Industry defines short-time as follows:
“short-time” means a temporary reduction in the number of ordinary hours of work owing to slackness or the exigencies of trade, shortage of material, a general breakdown of plant or machinery caused by accident or other unforeseen contingency and/or circumstances beyond the employer’s control, stock-taking or stoppage of work granted at the request of a majority of the employees in the establishment or part thereof.
The following provisions of the Main Agreement are applicable under the circumstances:
1. An employer may employ his employees on short-time provided that where such short-time is owing to slackness of trade. If the employee is required not to attend the establishment on a particular day, the employer shall notify the employee of the requirement not later than the day immediately preceding the day on which the employee is not required to work. Where the employee is expressly required by the employer to report at the establishment on any particular day for the purpose of ascertaining whether work will be available, the employee shall, if no work or if work of less than fours hours’ duration is available, be paid not less than four hour’s in respect of such day;
2. In the event of short-time being worked an employer shall not be required to pay wages to his employees except for the period actually worked or as otherwise expressly provided for in sub-clause (1) above.
3. An employee may not be placed on short-time on any of the days that are public holidays in terms of Section 1, or declared as such under section 2 of the Public Holidays Act, 1994.
4. Payment of public-holidays during short-time shall be at short-time rates provided four calendar days’ notice has been given to the employees.
5. In the event of any employee being placed on short-time in excess of four weeks, the employer concerned shall provide the MIBCO Regional Office with jurisdiction over the establishment with the following information in writing:
(a) The names of all employees placed on short-time;
(b) The reasons for extending the working of short-time beyond four weeks;
(c) The date on which short time commenced; and
(d) The estimated duration of short-time.
Please further note that unemployed learners undergoing training under the Skills Development Act, may not be placed on short-time pay as their full monthly stipend is covered by the SETA, even if they have to be temporarily removed from the work place for self-quarantine purposes. In terms of classroom training for both the employed (Skills Programme) and unemployed learners (Learnership) SEE FURTHER COMMUNICATION FROM THE WHOLESALE AND RETAIL SETA (ANNEXURE C).
Please contact the following FRA IR Consultants should you have any further questions or concerns.
1. Gauteng /Limpopo/Mpumalanga – Jan Malan on 082-569-3131 (email: email@example.com) and Johan Hoogendyk on 082-319-3377 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Free State/Northern Cape/Eastern Cape – Michelle Strydom on 083-743-3037 (email: email@example.com
3. Western Cape – Stephanie Cilliers on 072-183-5990 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. Eastern Cape – Justin Strydom on 082-551-6384 (email: email@example.com)
5. KZN – Roark Ryan on 072-588-2042 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and Gert Joubert on 082-825-6737 (email: email@example.com)
6. North West - Albert Groenewalt on 072-070-1588 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Letter from DOL regarding COVID-19 - Coronavirus
COVID-19 Guideline March 2020 for the workplace
Letter to SDPs - COVID-19
Business Input to the Nedlac Exco on COVID-19 (2020-03-16) (Final Part 2)
Easy-aid-guide for Employers
Retirement fund contributions during the Covid-19 pandemic
Please find attached the chairperson’s communication to stakeholders regarding payment of fund contributions during the national lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be appreciated if you post it on your websites and /or your communication channels.
FRA interview with SAFM
Letter to SAPIA Members
Please see further instructions regarding excessive pricing :
Warning from competition commission
Please be advised that the Competition Commission is receiving numerous complaints around price hikes in forecourts C-Stores and they are busy doing investigations. FRA discourages this behavior and be warned that there could be serious consequences imposed by the Competition Commission.
Also please find the new form to be used as work permit from the regulations. Because of timing of regulations publishing, we did not want to cause any further confusion by sending numerous guidelines as there was time pressures with shift changes.
We also note that the form requires an official business stamp and I am wondering if all businesses have such a stamp with the 4IR inventions.
We however, have not yet heard of any problems with current letter we proposed our Members to use.
Please click on this link to open the form Competition Commission
Urgent matters / bizportal registration communication
This period as anticipated is what it is now. In such circumstances we advise that urgent matters must be dealt with immediately. To assist, the FRA Board has stated that the issue of sorting out transport for the staff is urgent. The idea to consider is that Service Stations close to each other must urgently look at approaching one or two taxis as required and make arrangements to have their staff collected and dropped at usual pick-up and drop-off ranks or places. These Retailers should then if possible plan all their shifts to align taking into account that the last time for transport is 9PM.
Secondly there has been an announcement from Minister Ebrahim Patel that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade and Industry in order for them to trade during the period of the lock down. We believe this is very important and is an administration issue that can be handled between today and tomorrow. The Regulation already has identified your business as an essential service. So do attend to this as soon as you finish arrangements regarding your staff work permits and transport arrangements. Herewith the link and the announcement :
Essential Businesses required to visit Bizportal to continue trading
Minister Ebrahim Patel has announced that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition in order for them to trade during the period of the lockdown.
Such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at http://www.bizportal.gov.za/ and obtain a certificate from the Commission that allows them to continue trading.
The Bizportal website will contain a services menu icon listed as “Essential Service Businesses” through which an application can be made to the CIPC.
Please use the short enterprise number format, with a letter prefix and 10 numbers. e.g. K2020123456
The long format, with the slashes will be enabled in due course.
Also find below the link for the urgent numbers list for assistance during this period: www.fuelretailers.co.za
Final lockdown regulations and work permits
Herewith the Gazzeted regulations with regards to Lockdown (No changes to the one sent out this morning except that this is a gazzeted version). Also attached is the final official guidelines on Work Permits from SAPS as well as the circular from MIFA.
We re-iterate again the three importantEssential Goods to be sold in petrol stations: (under Annexure B of the Regulations)
1. Any food product, including non- alcoholic beverages
2. Fuel including coal and gas
3. Basic goods including airtime and electricity
Please note that cigarettes and lotto are not included
Please click on the links to open the documents below:
Final lockdown regulations
Herewith the amended regulations with regards to Lockdown.
Please click on the link to open FINAL LOCKDOWN REGULATIONS
We are still unpacking whole documents but there are two important ones and they are under schedule B.
1. Fuel is under essential goods and services.
2. Any food product, including non- alcoholic beverages A
This clears the confusion from the Restaurant Association Circular. It means C-Stores can sell any food product there is no limitation.
Thanks to CGCSA as they lobbied hard for retail shops to not be limited in terms of food types.
Herewith also the MIBCO LOCKDOWN CIRCULAR REGARDING THE LOCKDOWN www.fuelretailers.co.za
eNCA Interview with Reggie Sibiya
OPERATION OF FORECOURTS – COVID-19
Members are aware that President Ramaphosa, during his address on 22 March 2020 regarding Covid-19 announced that amongst other basic services, forecourts would continue operating during the Covid 19 21 days lockdown period.
The FRA has been fielding numerous questions in this regard, including the following:
1. Is it compulsory for a Forecourt and Convenience shop to remain open during the lockdown period?
In an attempt to answer this question, one needs to look at the rationale behind including forecourts as a basic, essential service. One needs to consider that the availability of fuel is essential to the transportation of health workers, ambulances, Police, Security, foods etc. The general public, especially in the absence of public transport systems would rely on motor vehicles for the basic needs such as food, pharmaceuticals or a general healthcare facility. This would support the general objective of what is required under the circumstances and therefore it is recommended for forecourts to remain open. There may also be a demand for C-store goods such as milk, bread etc.
In the event that it is not possible to open a forecourt because of extra-ordinary circumstances beyond your control, then it would not necessarily contravene any Regulation in terms of Covid-19 at this point in time. We are however awaiting further special Covid19 regulations on this matter and will guide accordingly.
Service Stations may also operate with a smaller staff compliment than the normal in the event that business is slack.
In this regard, members can refer to our previous circular, wherein the short time provisions were set out. Just to emphasize in terms of the provisions of the MIBCO Main Agreement the employer can invoke short time anytime their business is slack and only has to advise MIBCO when the short time period exceeds four (4) weeks.
FRA cannot be prescriptive on when an employer can start short time but has provided sufficient guidelines which are contained in the MIBCO Main Agreement.
The purpose of the previous guidelines on short time was to make members aware of the provisions and to advise of the option thereof and not necessarily to steer businesses into that option.
When it comes to the need to close down the business, FRA is aware that such may be inevitable. We know that the 21 days lockdown means major reduction in sales and turnover which will result in expenses being more than the income. Expenses like electricity and wages forms the huge component of operational expenses and no business can be expected to operate at a loss as that would be unconstitutional. FRA therefore strongly recommends that when it comes to this point each retailer must inform its respective Oil Company/ Wholesaler to discuss the closure. The FRA Board has also requested that all Dealer Council Representatives within the Board should urgently manage the process of closure with individual Oil Companies and that process has started as of today.
2. Restaurants, Take aways, QSRs, Canteens and any hospitality food establishment
FRA has received a circular from the CEO of Restaurant Association of SA stating: “I have been given a directive from the Ministers Office advising that ALL restaurants are included in the TOTAL LOCKDOWN for 21 days, effective Thursday 26th March 2020 @ 00:00 until Thursday 16th April @ 00:00…….
This includes all deliveries, take ways or home deliveries. There will be no exceptions made for any type of food service that continue to trade. Please discard ANY other information circulated at this point in time, should there be any confusion please contact the Association or whatsapp 083 661 9000…..” Circular will be posted on the FRA website
3. Transportation of Employees and Work Permits
It is unfortunate that at this point in time there is still no clarity on how the employees will receive work permits to leave their premises and also what mode of transportation will be available to transport them to work. FRA has been provided a list by Santaco head office for FRA to contact and make arrangements with provincial Taxi Associations. The general feedback from Regional Chairpersons is that the Taxi Associations don’t have clarity on the matter yet. Their Chairperson and all other stakeholders will be meeting with the Minister later today to discuss the matter.
FRA has also been in touch with the CGCSA who represents all the Supermarkets on the issue of work permits. They have also indicated that they are busy working on the protocols and will immediately share with the FRA once they have a proper directive.
4. Communication with SAPIA and its Members
FRA has also been in consistent communication with SAPIA, SAPIA Members and the Department of Minerals and Energy Controller in terms of FRA updates. To date we have had very positive responses from 3 SAPIA Members, and we hope this communication will be strengthened in the realisation that no one actually planned for this crisis and that we can only curb this with UNITY IN ACTION.
5. MIBCO and MIFA Services
FRA will be sending requests for these two institutions to provide guidance on their operations during the 21 days. We will revert by tomorrow
6. FRA Operations
FRA will continue to operate but only through emails. Please contact us via this channel as we will be working from home.
7. Cash Collection from sites
FRA has no directive on this as yet and we will get the Oil Company Brand Representatives within the Board to prioritize and communicate for each respective brand.
8. Business relief plans from the Government
FRA is continuously engaging to first understand these reliefs and how they will be implemented. There is still a lot of uncertainty on applications. Key take outs so far, bearing in mind that application will be a challenge in itself.
8.1 Minister of Small Businesses
The funding will require each business to demonstrate the financial impact and need for relief.
Funding will be channelled via SEDA and SEFA.
Lending will be at prime less 5% but penalty if found abusing the system will result in a prime plus 10% payment.
Company must be 100% South African and must employ not less than 70% of South Africans.
Register on national data base www.smme.gov.za in order to access the funding.
The funding will only be for 6 months and you can also contact them on 08606637867 or email Info@ dsbd.gov.za
8.2 Minister of Employment and Labour
No indication of the actual amount of funds that the UIF will provide in view of millions of workers that will be affected across industries.
Possibility of channelling some funds and processes to the Bargaining Councils to assist in managing the process.
Employers to observe basic Conditions of Employment. A special mention of sick leave and annual leave. My take here is that employers can encourage the employees to take their annual paid leave as part of the 21 days. This is also in line with innovative options when dealing with short time periods, it has been practiced.
There was also reference to TERS ( Temporary employer employee relief Scheme).
8.3 Minister of Trade and Industry
R3billion towards industrial funding but with some specific priority areas like import of medicals and the working capital for food security, energy security and components manufacturers.
The energy security will still need to be followed through by the FRA as to what it actually covers.
Lastly we still encourage daily communication with your staff of all developments. Where there is still no clarity state so. In such crisis management period all information is important, however there is urgent information. The information covered under point 7 is important but not as urgent as what to do on the 26th March with your business and its employees. Tomorrow FRA will be focussing mainly on getting clarity on the issue of transportation and work permits and we hope that by tomorrow most of it will have been addressed. We again understand the anxiety and distress but this is the time to look for innovative solutions in UNITY.
MIBCO Response to UIF Memorandum ofAgreement
Our Members are by now aware of various government relief schemes in dealing with the current Covid 19 crisis to assist small businesses, in particular to cope with the current and real financial pressures. FRA has also been inundated with queries around the UIF Administration and access to UIF Funding to complement the issues around dealing with short time and wages for employees.
Members may not be aware of the announcement by the Minister of Employment and Labour to involve Bargaining Councils via establishment of Memorandum of Agreement between the Department and the Bargaining Councils, in order to ease the administration burden of paying UIF claims.
We are aware that the Textile and Clothing industry has already signed such an MOA. It has also come to our attention that the MEIBC has, or is, in the process of concluding such a process.
Today we had a teleconference with MIBCO involving all the party representatives who are - FRA, RMI, NEASA, NUMSA and MISA. MIBCO has indicated that as things stand, they do not have the capacity to enter into such an agreement and a resolution was passed to be communicated back to the Department. The resolution also contained the questions around the administration fee to be paid to MIBCO to compensate for systems development and extra resources and that the system required for administration will take MIBCO 3 months to develop at a huge cost.
Whilst FRA was part of the resolution, we would like to state our dissatisfaction with the inability of MIBCO to respond swiftly to such urgent and pressing matters to our Members. Whilst awaiting MIBCO final action based on the Department’s response, FRA is engaging on alternative means to ensure its Members are not left out of the process.
Meanwhile MIBCO is developing a template to assist the employers to complete the UIF applications directly.
We thought that this feedback is important in view of the number of queries from our Members and to assure our Members that we are doing everything possible to assist them to access this funding and other various funds like TERS and Small Business Development funds. We are currently busy responding to the funding that requires a turnover threshold which we already know will exclude most, if not all fuel retailers from accessing, because of the inflated fuel turnovers due to levies and taxes in the fuel price. We are busy lobbying with all relevant authorities on this and it will be a process but we are stressing urgency.
UIF BENEFIT CLAIMS PROCESS PACK
Please find attached the simplified processes around the claiming of UIF Benefits during the Covid-19 period. We have been receiving numerous calls for this assistance from our Members. We apologize for the delays but there were various versions and amendments and it was important that we consult extensively before sending this pack to you. We have put all our efforts to try and pull it all together the best we could to assist you.
FRA encourages you to submit by the 15th April 2020 the first claim. We are sure to have the process enhanced once we receive the first feedback from those who have submitted. We don’t believe that there will be a perfect or ideal moment to wait for as some of the learnings or corrections will come after your first submission to UIF. Do let FRA know of the responses you are receiving from UIF so we can update the process for the next claims submission period.
FRA will continuously monitor the changes and advise accordingly.
Once again thanks to those who will be assisting their employees during these tough and trying times for all South Africans.
1. Final Labour bulletin March 2020 www.fuelretailers.co.za
UPDATE ON COVID 19 UIF CLAIMS
Following the email sent on Friday 10 April 2020 regarding the process to follow to claim from the UIF Covid 19 benefit fund, the submission has once again been changed.
The submission process has been simplified and streamlined.
All employers wishing to claim are now required to register on a dedicated website.
The site is
All documents required for submission remain the same.
Once registered, log-in and complete the process of accepting the MOA & Letter of Authority.
You are then required to upload the Employer Bank Account Verification Letter which can be downloaded from most internet banking sites – no need to visit your branch.
The final requirement is to upload the complete, CSV formatted, payment spread sheet which can be retrieved from the link below – (PAYMENT SPREADSHEET) Payment Spreadsheet - Template: Download
If the website cannot be accessed, please keep trying as the system is under tremendous pressure.
Please note that the deadline for the first submission is 15 April 2020 but submissions can be done as and when retailers are ready within the 3 months period provision.
Please be assured of our commitment to keep you informed as matters change.
COVID-19 funding relief
Please find updated ABSA communication including SARS Guarantee Scheme.