Socialising outside work after hours without observing Covid-19 protocols could get you fired, says Justin Hattingh, senior legal advisor for Strata-g Labour Solutions.
He says that if employers can prove someone has been reckless after hours and exposed other employees in the workplace, there could be a basis to act against them.
Hattingh said employers can only exercise these liberties if they have policies in place or even health and safety-related misconduct offences in their employment documents.
“Employers cannot simply assume employees will act by the law without being aware of what amounts to misconduct. Employers who dismiss employees on the grounds of flouting Covid-19 protocols, without the necessary policies in place, could possibly be found to have done so unfairly.”
He said while most employers do not have any sort of occupational health and safety-related offences in their codes of conduct there is still a need to explicitly state that any breach of occupational health and safety is not tolerated, not specifically for Covid-19.
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“Short of disciplining employees, employers must explain to their staff that if they don’t comply with regulations and then become ill, they won’t be able to work and could potentially be placed on unpaid leave. That would affect them from an economic point of view.
“Employers therefore need to appeal to their employees’ humanity by reminding them that reckless behaviour could lead to a super-spreader event in the workplace, affecting everyone’s livelihoods and even placing their families at risk.”