Domestic workers can return to work from 1 June under South Africa’s new level 3 lockdown, says minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel.
Speaking in a media briefing on Thursday (28 May), Patel indicated that that this return would be subject to health protocols being in place.
“There are particular challenges in a domestic environment and we will be looking to see if the existing directives need to be elaborated or expanded for these circumstances. Even as domestic workers return, it is absolutely vital that it be done so safely.”
Patel is expected to provide clarity on these directives in the coming days.
“There are particular challenges sometimes in a domestic environment and we will be looking to see whether the existing directions need to be elaborated,” he said.
The minister said that domestic workers should only return to work if they can do so safely while complying with all regulations – including those surrounding social distancing, travel, and public transport.
Until now, only live-in domestic workers, childminders and those staff who look after people with special needs, have been able to work.
Covid-19 alert level 3 will take effect from Monday 1 June, which means that domestic workers will be able to return to work from this date.
According to StatsSA, the country has around a million domestic workers.
A government gazette published on Tuesday (26 May) stated that all employees, whether or not they were registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund at the time of the lockdown, can now apply for Covid-19 TERS funding, including domestic workers.
The new regulations published by Employment and Labour Minister Thembelani Nxesi, also enables those people who have lost income or been forced to take annual leave, to apply for benefits from the Temporary Employer Relief Scheme.