SA HR news roundup: Covid-19 complacency, people want privacy in the office

Survey shows that employees want privacy and places to do individual work when in the office.

UIF says employers who are dissatisfied with Covid-19 TERS can lodge a dispute or appeal, while the department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation has issued a white paper for public comment, on jobs for the future. Employers are becoming complacent about employee vaccination status and record-keeping, and latest research shows that employees really want an office that helps them to do both collaborative and individual work.

Companies becoming complacent about Covid-19 vax status

Some employers have become complacent about employee vaccination status and keeping this information up to date.

In terms of the Code of Practice on managing exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace, issued by the Department of Employment and Labour in March 2022, every employer must take measures to determine the vaccination status of its employees, ENSAfrica said.

“With the advent of booster shots, an employee’s vaccination status can be a moving target. The new code recognises this and has expanded the definition of vaccinated to include booster shots.”

The new world of jobs

The Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation has identified sectors and jobs that it expects to shape the country’s future in a white paper, which was published for public comment on 6 June.

Jobs listed include regenerative medicine experts, carbon capture and storage specialists, simulation and gaming modellers, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, quantum computing, and medical geologists.

Various megatrends, such as population growth and urbanisation, and technological advances are increasing uncertainty. These changes present opportunities and threats, for instance, a changing manufacturing environment can lead to economic growth, but also to the loss of traditional jobs, the department said.

Open-plan offices too noisy and distracting

Employees have long complained that open-plan offices are noisy and distracting – and in year three of the Covid-19 pandemic, the problem has only worsened, says Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap.

According to the most recent survey by Steelcase, represented locally by Giant Leap, when asked what’s become more important in the office now – compared to pre-pandemic – four of the top five were related to privacy and places to do individual work.

“What employees really want is an office that helps them easily do both collaborative and individual work, where they feel a greater sense of belonging and control over their work experience,” said Linda.

Employers can appeal UIF Covid-19 TERS decisions

Employers who are dissatisfied with their Covid-19 TERS application or payment process can lodge a dispute or appeal with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for cases to be reviewed by a dispute committee.

“The kind of disputes employers can appeal relates to failed bank verifications, password reset/access to the TERS platform, payment of unverified foreign nationals, CSV failures, including for periods prior to the closure date, declarations, unprocessed claims where error messages have been provided, but corrective action was not taken by the employer,” UIF assistant director: provincial operations in the Western Cape, David Matibidi said.