Alert Level 4: What You Need To Know About Domestic Workers’ Return To Work

– by Luke Kannemeyer

I have seen plenty of questions about the regulations around domestic employees and other cleaning professionals during Alert Level 4. As a senior manager at SweepSouth, Africa’s largest domestic cleaning platform, I have studied the AL4 Gazette thoroughly and can offer you my insight.

The rules, clear and simple:
  • ALL live-in domestic workers may return (but once they return, they may not commute home until the alert level is lowered)
  • Any domestic worker who is responsible for the care of children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, physical or mental illness may return to work.
  • No ‘live-out’ domestic worker whose duties do not include caregiving as stated above may return to work. Not even for AL4 permitted workers. This was part of the provisional regulations but was removed on publication of the Government Gazette.

Source: Part N1 of Government Gazette 432548.

When can my domestic worker return?

Currently, all domestic workers are expected to be allowed to return to work at Alert Level 3 for all permitted level 3 personnel.

At Alert Level 2, all domestic workers are expected to be permitted to return irrespective of whether you are required to work or not.

Source: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/covid-19-risk-adjusted-strategy and Minister Patel’s media briefing on 29 April.

But can I use a cleaning or garden service?

Part P2 of the Government Gazette states that cleaning and sanitation services are permitted under Alert Level 4. It seems clear that you can book any cleaning service for your home. So why not your private domestic employees? I suspect this is due to the fact that services can be more tightly controlled and regulated than individual household employers.

Garden services are definitely not allowed to currently operate under Alert Level 4. They are expected to return at Alert Level 3 together with pool cleaning services. Do not be fooled if a service claims to have a permit to operate. Permits were automatically issued on application with the threat of fines or criminal prosecution if the information reported was incorrect.

Source: Part P2 of Government Gazette 432548.

What about my business?

If your business uses a cleaning service, one can presume that under Part P2 of the Government Gazette, you are allowed to continue utilising this service.

If your cleaner is a direct employee of your company, they will fall under the standard regulations regarding the operations of your business under Alert Level 4. If your business is permitted and operating under AL4, you are expected to “develop measures to ensure that the workplace meets the standards of health protocols”. If any employed cleaners are part of ensuring these standards are met, it would follow that they are allowed to return to work provided all other regulations regarding returning employees are followed.

If you are working from home, it does not seem that any cleaner employed by your business will be able to return to work unless your home is the normal premises for your business operations.

See Chapter 3, Section 16, Point 6 of Government Gazette 432548 for further detail.

What is required if my domestic employee is eligible to return to work?

All employees returning to work need to be issued with a ‘permit to perform an essential or permitted service’ accessible here. This should be completed by yourself with all the relevant details. Given current restrictions on printing services, providing a digital copy to your domestic worker should suffice. Please encourage them to download the file so it is available offline and make sure their device is fully charged before commuting.

Your domestic employee will also have to wear a mask at all times while travelling on public transport and observe the necessary social distancing regulations.

Source: Chapter 3, Section 16, Point 2b of Government Gazette 432548.

What if my domestic employee isn’t eligible to return to work?

I would strongly urge you to continue supporting your domestic employees during this difficult time. If you are facing financial pressure which doesn’t allow you to do so, I would encourage you to help support your employee in accessing the relevant government resources available to domestic workers such as the special UIF grant.

SweepSouth is aiming to raise R12m to ensure all of the domestic workers dependent on our platform are provided with food aid. To date, we have raised close to R8.5m through the generous contributions of corporate and philanthropic donors as well as our clients and employees. To find out more or to make a contribution, visit: https://campaign.sweepsouth.com/ss-covid19-fund-2020/

Additionally, we have enabled those SweepStars with child-minding or caregiving experience to return to work under the current regulations by expanding the range of services offered by our platform.

For any further information, you can read the Government Gazette in its entirety at https://www.gov.za/documents/disaster-management-act-regulations-29-apr-2020-0000

The above is my understanding of the AL4 regulations after thorough review of the Government Gazette and based on my professional experience. I believe all of this to be true and correct at the time of writing but I cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies. These regulations are subject to change at any time. Any queries should be directed to the relevant government authorities.

Luke Kannemeyer – Head of Growth and Strategy at SweepSouth
5 May 2020

22 Comments Add yours

  1. Mmakgotso says:

    What about domestic workers who who worked during lockdown.are they to be paid double?I mean the live-in.

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    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Mmakgotso,
      We would strongly encourage all employers of live-in workers who voluntarily chose to work during the initial lockdown to adequately compensate them and their families for additional costs which they may have incurred during the time. For example, not being able to commute home over weekends may have meant increased child care costs. However, there is no legal requirement to increase pay over the period so this will have to form part of a negotiation between an employer and employee. If forced to work during the initial lockdown, there may be some legal recourse which we are not in the position to advise on.

      Like

  2. Vimla Naidoo says:

    Good Morning
    Is there a special covid19 benefit or grant that I can apply for my domestic
    Thank you
    Vimla Naidoo

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Vimla,
      Domestic workers whose employers contribute to the UIF are entitled to a special Covid-19 benefit during the lockdown period. Employers need to apply for the special benefit on the UIF platform (https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19).

      Like

  3. Jennifer M says:

    Evening
    Can i still register my domestic worker for UIF and apply for the benefit

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Jennifer, you can definitely still register your domestic worker for UIF. We cannot confirm, but once you have paid up your arrears and any necessary penalties, we expect that your worker should be able to access the benefit. You can give this article on Parent24 a read if you need more info: https://www.parent24.com/Family/Finance_Legal/when-is-it-too-late-to-register-my-domestic-worker-for-uif-20200423

      Like

  4. krystle says:

    good day , id like to find out, i need to work during level 4, but my domestic worker normally looks after my kids when we are at work and after school, is she allowed to return to look after them while i work ? or how does it work ?

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Krystle, according to the current regulations, your domestic worker can definitely return to work, if a part of their duties includes childcare. All you need to do is provide them with a copy of Form 2 (available here: https://bit.ly/AL4_FORM2). Don’t worry about stamping the document. Just ensure it is as fully completed, as possible, with your details and your domestic worker’s details. See the section of the blogpost above titled ‘WHAT IS REQUIRED IF MY DOMESTIC EMPLOYEE IS ELIGIBLE TO RETURN TO WORK?’ for further detail.

      Like

  5. Kitty Lawrenson says:

    Hi, if I am an essential worker still going to work every day, is my domestic allowed to come to work if she does not stay in, Level 4, and If she is allowed to work, do I need a permit for her and where do I get that?

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Kitty, unfortunately, while it was expected that essential and permitted personnel would be allowed to have their domestic staff return at alert level 4, this was removed on publication of the regulations in the Government Gazette and restricted to workers whose duties involve caregiving. According to Minister Patel, we can expect all domestic workers to return under level 3 for all essential personnel and personnel required to work under alert level 3 (AL3). We will have to wait for the publication of the Government Gazette outlining the regulations for AL3 before we can give you specific advice.
      If your domestic worker’s duties do currently involve caregiving, they may return. See the section of the blogpost above titled ‘WHAT IS REQUIRED IF MY DOMESTIC EMPLOYEE IS ELIGIBLE TO RETURN TO WORK?’ for further detail.

      Like

  6. Zinhle says:

    I am a domestic worker am leaving in, I used to go home on a Friday. Is it OK to continue going home on the Friday, during level4 of lockdown? How long level4 will take?

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Zinhle, we cannot tell how long lockdown level 4 will take. We expect that we should be on level 3 by June but we will have to wait on the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to confirm this. Unfortunately, during alert level 4, you cannot commute home on weekends. This restriction is expected to be lifted at alert level 3.

      Like

  7. Leigh says:

    Hi there, the form provided does not accommodate for domestic workers of private individuals who are essential services employees. Should I just fill in my personal details as the employer?

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Leigh, note that ordinary domestic workers whose duties do not include caregiving as stipulated are not permitted to return for anyone. While this was part of the draft regulations, it was removed on final publication so essential workers and permitted levels 3 and 4 personnel will have to wait until level 3 for their domestic workers to return. We know you must be struggling as are many of us having to work during this time. If your domestic worker’s duties do include caregiving, you will have to fill-out Form 2 (available here: https://bit.ly/AL4_FORM2) and provide a copy to your domestic worker. For a private household, you are the employer of your domestic worker and so your details will need to be filled in where applicable.

      Like

  8. Ernst Schutte says:

    As a private household where we are elderly( 70 + ) what permit do we need for the domestic worker to come to work?

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Ernst, you are able to issue your domestic worker with a permit (available here: https://bit.ly/AL4_FORM2) and should fill out all the necessary details, clearly stipulating that her duties include caring for the elderly.

      Like

  9. Philip says:

    I find informative I am 64 and elderly in terms of the regulations to enable my domestic worker to return 1. Can I issue a permit and will I be allowed to drive to her home to collect and drop off.

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Philip, you are able to issue your domestic worker with a permit (available here: https://bit.ly/AL4_FORM2) and should fill out all the necessary details, clearly stipulating that her duties include caring for the elderly. She should keep a copy of this permit as well for yourself as it does appear that under current regulations, the transporting of permitted workers is allowed.

      Like

  10. Jane says:

    Struggling to understand why Garden Centres and Landscapers are open and but Gardens Services are not. It is easy for us to keep distances and gardens are really getting out of hand. Clients are calling me with security issues as electric fences, beams and lights are being compromised after 7 weeks, and finding the dig poops in the long grass is not a joke anymore.

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Jane, we know that this is a deeply frustrating time for everyone. We suspect that even though garden services will generally keep their distance, the government is seeking to prevent groups of people entering multiple homes. We expect that alert level 3 is on the horizon for June so it’s just a little bit longer that we have to survive. However, businesses in the security sector and any service which helps with outdoor cleaning and sanitation is allowed.

      Like

  11. Sam Venter says:

    Thanks for really useful info. Do you know if the permit you provided is the right one for a disabled person to use, for their domestic worker to come to work as an essential service? Would the individual sign (and stamp??) the form as the “head of institution”? The permit form seems more geared to a business than an individual employer – but there doesn’t seem to be a permit available for use by individuals/households? Any advice greatly appreciated.

    Like

    1. SweepSouth says:

      Hi Sam, Form 2 (available here: https://bit.ly/AL4_FORM2) is the correct and only form for all permitted workers to carry during the Alert Level 4 period. While frustrating that it is evidently geared towards businesses (and many businesses themselves don’t have stamps), we encourage you to fill out the form to the best of your ability with your own or the appropriate individual’s details listed as the employer.

      Like

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