LOUIS THE LAWYER Logo Final 1 A Copy 002Louis Nel 31 Mar 20 002 

As mentioned in my previous article, employers have resorted to all kinds of measure to monitor WFH performance arising, at least initially, from concerns about productivity. No doubt not all the measures and in most cases it is unlikely that any of it is covered contractually but it included e.g. biometric clock-in systems, internet & telephone use, login times, taking screenshots of employees’ desktop throughout the day.

Given that research has shown that 54% of those surveyed wish to carry on working from home (Boston Consulting) regardless of the status of Covid, the time has come to revisit employment contracts on a more permanent basis. Such review should by definition have RICA (The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provisions of Communication-related Information Act, Act 70 of 2002) as its point of departure but looking ahead, should undoubtedly have to encompass aspects of POPI discussed above.

Much has been said about the positive and negative aspects of WFH so let’s have a quick look at that:

NEGATIVES

All humans are by and large social creatures some more than others and this is evident in the office environment. Some of us upon arrival at the office knuckle down to work right away whereas others love a (quick) chat, be it in the elevator or at the coffee machine. This is of course seriously lacking with WFH and for some people that has had quite an impact on their mental health and consequently motivation (to work). Add the deluge of Zoom & Team meetings and Whats App phone calls, the WFH circumstances have become a serious challenge and given the duty of care employers owe employees, the issues to be addressed are not merely the legal aspects such as RICA and POPI but also other issues that Covid has brought to bear namely the physical and mental well-being of the employee.     

POSITIVES

Despite the fact that working in ‘isolation’ requires self-imposed discipline there have been indications that in some cases productivity has improved. It is a matter of conditioning and a bit like the early days of open plan offices and so-called ‘white noise’, employees have managed/found ways to deal with ‘domestic interruptions’.    

Most have welcomed the lack of time wasting commuting and more (quality) family time. There have even been reports of less sick days!

(Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLPGlobalUnited Kingdom June 10 2021)

Why is the question; why should any business have to ‘jump through all these hoops’?  Simply because there are serious penalties for statutory non-compliance!

More about the penalties in the next issue.

© ADV LOUIS NEL

Louis-THE-lawyer

August 19 2021

DISCLAIMER - Each case depends on its own facts & merits - the above does not constitute advice - independent advice should be obtained in all instances.

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