Electricity state of disaster and the workplace


Handle employee processes fairly and with integrity, law firm advises.

A state of national disaster was declared on 9 February 2023, as a result of the severe electricity supply constraints being experienced throughout the country. These constraints have affected business, working conditions and employees’ personal lives.

“Employers are suffering huge income and production losses due to the inability to perform at an optimal level. Many businesses, farms, and factories are having to dismiss skilled workers to make up for the loss due to powerlessness,” says Aadil Patel, director and national practice head of the employment practice at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH).

In terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (Act), the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is empowered to make resolutions, issue regulations and make directions or authorise directions concerning matters relating to the state of national disaster.

According to CDH, while no regulations or directions have yet been announced, such declarations will probably have an impact on the workplace.

Although it is too early to pinpoint exactly what the effects could be, “the regulations and directives may seek to further limit or regulate retrenchments which are a consequence of financial losses due to loadshedding”.

The regulations may also consider a reduction in remuneration considering unproductive working hours during loadshedding periods, as well as utilising leave to cater for long periods during which power supply is interrupted, according to CDH.

The effect that this is having on the workforce is severe and will carry a knock-on effect in the months to come. Therefore, it’s important for employers to feel prepared to manage these processes with integrity and fairness, CDH advises.

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