newsIn a letter to the editor of Business Day, MP and well-known labour analyst Michael Bagraim notes that there has been a lot of confusion over labour issues arising from the Covid-19 lockdown.  

For example, it has been queried whether employees who have been told to stay home and can’t work remotely are entitled to be paid and also whether employers can make employees take paid leave.  He points out that labour legislation still applies, specifically the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.  In essence, a wage is only given in return for hours worked, so if the hours are not worked there would be no legal claim for a wage or salary.  But the Department of Employment & Labour has asked employers to pay their employees while on lockdown if they possibly can, or to at least try to make up the difference between payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the actual wage.  Regarding forced leave, if there is no contractual agreement on the issue of leave, the employer is entitled to decide when paid leave must be taken by the employee.  If no paid leave is owing, employees must take unpaid leave.

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