Your boss can discipline you for recklessly exposing yourself to Covid - lawyer

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Barbara Friedman

301 days ago
Your boss can discipline you for recklessly exposing yourself to Covid - lawyer © Dmitry Molchanov / 123rf

Does Covid-19 give employers more say in employees' behaviour outside of work, if it is in the interest of keeping the whole company safe?

Africa Melane chats to Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, to find out.

Absolutely, she insists.

The whole point of the regulations and the full awareness and education and training sent out there was to make sure we as employees know what is expected of us. We have a dual obligation to ensure that we are safe and that we keep our working environment safe.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

But this does not only apply to the employer, it applies to employees as well, she says.

Schensema acknowledges that sometimes one can be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A distinction needs to be made between you having acted recklessly and you having been exposed to Covid-19.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

If there is evidence to demonstrate that someone was flouting the regulations by not socially distancing or wearing a mask then action can be taken, she says.

You would just have to demonstrate to your employer that you did not intentionally get ill.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

She says in her law practice there have been cases where employees have been dismissed for this reason.

And we have, unfortunately, come across people who are abusing this process because how do we then prove as an employer that you weren't exposed.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

She says they have had cases of both these things.

We have had cases of people who have flouted the regulations and been shameless about it on social media, and that is how employers have been able to prove it.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Similarly, there has been an abuse of sick leave where employees have simply said they were exposed when in fact they have not been exposed after an investigation was conducted.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

She says no cases have yet gone to the CCMA and labour court.

But I am a host of referrals are coming.

Hedda Schensema, Director in the Employment Practice - Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

She suggests companies do add these clauses to their employment policies.

Listen to the interview below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Your boss can discipline you for recklessly exposing yourself to Covid - lawyer

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