Lock Down – CCR Will be closed from the 27th March and be open on the 20th April 2020.

How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?

To prevent spread of COVID-19, CDC is recommending individuals employ social distancing or maintaining approximately 6 feet from others, when possible. In food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments, an evaluation should be made to identify and implement operational changes that increase employee separation. However, social distancing to the full 6 feet will not be possible in some food facilities.

Workers in the food and agriculture sector fill critical and essential roles within communities. Promoting the ability of our workers within the food and agriculture industry to continue to work during periods of community restrictions, social distances, and closure orders, among others, is crucial to community continuity and community resilience. This was reinforced by DHS in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19.

The risk of an employee transmitting COVID-19 to another is dependent on distance between employees, the duration of the exposure, and the effectiveness of employee hygiene practices and sanitation. When it’s impractical for employees in these settings to maintain social distancing, effective hygiene practices should be maintained to reduce the chance of spreading the virus.

IMPORTANT: Maintaining social distancing in the absence of effective hygiene practices may not prevent the spread of this virus. Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces.

Because the intensity of the COVID-19 outbreak may differ according to geographic location, coordination with state and local officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside.

Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Will FDA/EPA approve off-label use of quaternary ammonium sanitizer at 200 ppm as a hand sanitizer for checkers and customers?  It is currently on the EPA approved list for use in retail to sanitize food prep areas, dishes etc., and we would like to use it instead of gel hand sanitizer due to the lack of availability. 

We are aware of temporary out-of-stock conditions of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  Several manufacturers of these products have indicated that they are working to replenish supplies.  In addition, the FDA has issued guidance for the temporary compounding of certain alcohol-based hand sanitizers by pharmacists in state-licensed pharmacies or federal facilities and registered outsourcing facilities.  See Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry: Policy for Temporary Compounding of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency.  FDA has also issued guidance for the temporary preparation of certain alcohol-based hand sanitizer products by firms during the public health emergency (COVID-19).  See Guidance for Industry: Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-191).

Hand sanitizers are not intended to replace handwashing in food production and retail settings.  Instead, hand sanitizers may be used in addition to or in combination with proper handwashing.  CDC recommends that everyone wash their hands with plain soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may be used if plain soap and water are not available.

As an interim measure, we understand some food establishments have set up quaternary ammonium hand-dip stations and sprays at 200 ppm concentration. These products are intended for use on surfaces, and as such, may not be formulated for use on skin. FDA is aware of adverse event reports from consumers using such products as a replacement for hand sanitizers and advises against using these products as replacements for hand sanitizers.

Should employees, such as cashiers, baggers, and cleaning personnel in food retail settings wear face masks to prevent exposure to COVID-19?

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

CDC recommends everyday preventive actions for everyone, including service industry workers and customers:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees?

All components of the food industry are considered critical infrastructure and it is therefore vital that they continue to operate.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 that includes information on how a COVID-19 outbreak could affect workplaces and steps all employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

Food production/processing facilities/farms need to follow protocols, including cleaning protocols, set by local and state health departments, which may vary depending on the amount of community spread of COVID-19 in a given area. These decisions will be based on public health risk of person-to-person transmission – not based on food safety.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality about individual employees’ identities. Sick employees should follow the CDC’s  What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

CDC’s Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Managements of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposures: Geographic Risk and Contacts of Laboratory-confirmed Cases, provides a framework for assessing and managing risks of potential exposures to SARS-CoV-2.

Quantity vs quality: SA’s job-creation dilemma

Would government enable an environment that allows businesses to simply create jobs?

In South Africa, the level of unemployment is high and there are few jobs that people can compete for,” says Statistics SA in its report on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2019. “About 71.5% of those in unemployment have been looking for work for a period of a year or longer.”

The economy is well into the fourth quarter of the year and very little has changed in the labour market since July, when this was stated.

What South Africa needs more than anything else is uninterrupted job creation for the next three or five years.

However, with the current slowing down of the global economy, is uninterrupted job creation possible, even within a growing economy?

Growth does not always translate to job creation; the two terms of former President Thabo Mbeki’s administration illustrate this. But could a tighter labour market achieve an effective redistribution between employers and workers in such a way that the latter benefit through a wage boom?

At times anecdotes have very little value, but it is disturbing that most of us know a few people who have lost their jobs, some of whom may still be unemployed, and no doubt at least one who has actively given up looking for work. Add unemployed graduates who have also given up and the crisis becomes clear. Gradually, South Africa will have more people who are no longer counted as unemployed, because they are discouraged or have completely given up looking for work.

The need for a decent wage

Then there are those who are employed but can barely survive on a single wage, considering the rising costs of the basics needed for everyday living. The spending power of most low- and middle-income workers continues to decline. What has caused this?

Can the decline and stagnated wages be attributed to the assumption that where labour is plentiful, the employer adjusts wages since supply outstrips demand?

It may be that inflation-adjusted wages have risen for unionised workers, but they represent a fraction of the workforce. The International Labour Organisation’s Global Wage Report for 2018/2019 shows that global wage growth has waned to its lowest level since 2007, and South Africa is among the 64 countries with the highest wage inequality in the world.

For many South Africans, the stagnation in wages couldn’t have happened at worse time. The weakening economy has sent the cost of basic necessities skyrocketing, creating insecurity and an inability to save money.

Obstructionist politics

These are a number of issues playing out at the same time here, including the persistent obstructionist politics of the governing party when it comes to addressing enduring challenges of the economy.

For one thing, politicians consistently mention tackling the rising unemployment crisis – yet the government is never clear on how it is going to approach this task.

Unemployment is inextricably linked to inequality and poverty, yet in the past 15 years policymakers have demonstrated an inability to find an implementable strategy.

This is alarming, especially when one considers the number of underemployed workers, the scarcity of opportunities for graduates under the age of 30, and the effects of joblessness on black women who continue to be left out of the economy. In particular, the latter are burdened with being primary providers in many rural communities throughout the country, despite being the most affected by stagnant wages, the rising cost of living, and wage inequality.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the country is in serious economic difficulty, with rising unemployment, falling incomes and weakening spending power.

In the face of this, what will inform government policies on the labour market – job creation or decent wages?

By the former, I mean creating an enabling environment that allows business to simply create jobs – with the emphasis on the quantity of jobs created instead of the quality. The risk in the former is that it will bind low-earning workers to the stagnant wage growth they have faced for more than a decade. The latter, however, may see employers creating jobs that pay better – but with fewer jobs available.

The big question to be asked

Importantly, whatever policy government comes with to tackle the imbalances in the labour market, policymakers and government leaders must be able to give a convincing answer when asked this question:

What obstruction to job creation or a decent wage are their policy proposals trying to remove?

In sorting out South Africa’s unemployment problem, have they considered structural or deficient-demand unemployment types? Present-day South Africa is symbolised by structural unemployment, where there is a mismatch between skills and demands in the labour market.

Furthermore, workers displaced in a sector struggle to find employment beyond that particular sector. Think about the rock drillers in the mining industry who cannot use that specific skill anywhere else in the economy. The effects of globalisation and technological advancements are other contributing factors – work itself has changed from being secure to precarious, and technology has made some jobs redundant, replacing them with new jobs that require new skills.

Do you think our leaders can get this? Or answer these questions? I hope someone can. Maybe, just maybe, they may even have a plan. Do not hold your breath though, you might pass out if you try.

Graduates entering the work world

Graduates often hear the same advice on repeat. Write your CV like this, don’t post inappropriate content on social media, dress professionally for an interview, maintain eye-contact, don’t have a weak handshake etc.
3 tips for graduates entering the digitally-driven workforce

And while this is good advice, not many graduates are getting the advice they really need to succeed in a world increasingly driven by technology.

From self-driving cars, to chatbots taking the place of call centre agents, and drones delivering that pair of shoes you ordered online, technology is changing the way we live, work, and communicate. But what does this mean for students and what can they do now to remain relevant in the future?

In celebration of Youth Month, Microsoft recently engaged with Zeta Yarwood, a leading career coach and former recruitment specialist in the Middle East to find out how university students and recent graduates can prepare for the not-so-distant future world of work.

  1. Today you need more than a degree to be successful in your chosen career path

    With over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – in multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Yarwood knows the secrets of career success. And, she’s seen first-hand the shifts that have taken place in today’s modern workplace.

    Gone are the days where students study for a degree that will set them up with a job for life. “Forget the notion of choosing one job for life,” she says. Before entering the world of work, students must ask themselves one very important question: ‘Will my education prepare me for a meaningful career, and will that career even exist by the time I’m ready to join the workforce?’

    It’s also important to question whether your degree has equipped you with skills both hard (physical and/or theoretical knowledge of how to perform a job role) and soft (emotional, cognitive skills that inform your approach to work).

    This is important because automation could replace certain hard skills, while, according to Yarwood, “Companies are putting more emphasis on softer skills such as emotional intelligence, communication, critical thinking skills and leadership qualities than ever before.” These skills aren’t always taught at universities, and are often developed over time and through lots of practice.

    And the research tells similar story. Microsoft recently collaborated with the Economist and the Intelligence Unit to survey education professionals globally, from teachers and administrators to principals. The survey found that emotional well-being is a predictor of employment success, and emotional literacy is crucial for self-awareness and navigating through life.

    The report also found that as artificial intelligence (AI) transforms the job market, the importance of human skills like creativity, interpersonal understanding, and empathy is becoming more and more valuable.

  2. Focus on developing a specific skillset

    Another key consideration is that the conventional four-year degree – widely regarded as the benchmark requirement for a prosperous career – is becoming less relevant in many fields.

    In countries where no free tertiary education is offered, the cost alone of a four-year degree could exclude many people from obtaining a qualification that could set them up for future success. Instead of insisting that students study a degree for four years, they should pursue more compact, affordable and real-world options.

    For example, students can study for a ‘micro or nano-degree’ which, as the name suggests, gives them specific skills, often in science, technology or math subjects. The demand for these skills is increasing rapidly in the Middle East and Africa to meet the needs of growing economies.

    These degrees are obtained in much less time than traditional degrees — and offer a more affordable price tag. Think of them as versions of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), only more inclusive, more comprehensive and with a qualification at the end of the course.

    There are many programmes available to youth that encourage lifelong learning and continuous upskilling. For example, the Microsoft Virtual Academy 4Afrika offers youth a unique online learning experience – free of charge. Online courses are streamed in real-time, enabling you to interact with established industry experts from across the continent. Technology and business courses are available, designed in Africa, for an African audience, to meet your individual needs and organisational goals.

    Microsoft’s Digital Skills programme also offers students curated digital skills resources from digital literacy courses to computer science tutorials and more. And the Microsoft Cloud Society programme, which is a one-stop learning platform academy, offers a range of modules to hone your cloud skills.

  3. Work towards using data creatively

    A recent World Economic Forum (WEF) report, titled ‘The Future of Jobs’, predicts that 35% of the skills needed to succeed in working world will have changed by 2020, regardless of industry. Creativity was also ranked number ten on the list of critical skills – and in 2020 (which is just next year) it will be the third most coveted skill after complex problem-solving and critical thinking.

    It doesn’t matter what your dream job entails, demonstrating that you are able to use data in original and creative ways to solve important problems will be vital to your career success.

    Teaching, learning and research, whether in humanities, law, the sciences, medicine or engineering requires us to engage with data. Now is the perfect opportunity for students to take advantage of this perfect storm of creativity, technological megatrends and advanced communication platforms to figure out the best ways to collaborate in conjunction with technology.

The secret for a bright and prosperous future lies in students’ ability to be flexible, adaptable and always ready to learn, unlearn and relearn. Think about yourself as a package of skills and abilities, not as a defined role or occupation.

Labour department to name and shame employers who fail to comply with minimum wage

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant says government will name and shame employers who fail to comply with the national minimum wage.

The National Minimum Wage Act came into effect at the start of this year and stipulates that employers should pay employees a minimum hourly rate of R20. For farm and forestry workers, the amount is R18 per hour, domestic workers R15 and for workers of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), the amount is R11.

Speaking at an International Labour Organisation (ILO) event earlier this week, Oliphant said her department is on a national blitz to “assess levels of the National Minimum Wage Act in businesses with over 1 300 inspectors assigned to monitor compliance”.

“Already the department is in the process of naming and shaming employers who fail to comply by publishing them on the department’s website.”

“Government’s political will is to ensure the tough enforcement of the implementation of the minimum wage,” said Oliphant.

She added that her department is aware of a “new tactic that was gathering traction – that of firing workers to undermine the labour laws that seek to address unemployment, inequality and poverty”.

The department will stop these tactics in their tracks, Oliphant warned.

Increase budgets

The minister said laws such as the Labour Relations Act (LRA) exist to strengthen relationships between employers and employees.

She also pledged that government will look to increase budgets for the inspectorate and the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

“Ours as a government is to strengthen the inspectorate and the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) monitoring roles.”

Oliphant went on to reassure that government was also committed to investing in the economy of the country to create much-needed jobs.

3 major new laws Ramaphosa is set to sign now that the elections are over.

Demerit system

The National Assembly officially voted in favour of South Africa’s controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) bill at the beginning of March.

With the bill having passed both houses, it will now be sent to president Cyril Ramaphosa for assent and to be signed into law.

The amendment bill is expected to fundamentally change driving in South Africa, with some of the biggest changes including:

  • Failing to pay traffic fines can lead to a block on obtaining driving and vehicle licences and an administrative fee – in addition to other penalties;
  • Where documents previously had to be delivered by registered mail through the post office, in terms of the amendment, authorities will now also be able to serve documents electronically and can send reminders via WhatsApp and SMS;
  • A new demerit system will be introduced. Depending on the severity of the offence, 1-6 points are allocated for offences. If an infringer has more than 12 points, it will result in the disqualification of the driving licence and three suspensions result in its cancellation;
  • The establishment of a new Appeals Tribunal which will preside over issues that are raised under the new bill.

Debt relief

The National Credit Amendment Bill was officially passed by the National Council of Provinces on 8 March and has now been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law.

The bill aims to provide relief to over-indebted South Africans who have no other means of extracting themselves from over-indebtedness.

Specifically, the bill will allow certain applicants to have their debt suspended in part or in full for up to 24 months.

This debt may then be extinguished altogether if the financial circumstances of the applicant do not improve.

The criteria for meeting this debt write-off include:

  • Where the unsecured debt is not more than R50,000;
  • Where the unsecured debt was accrued through unsecured credit agreements, unsecured short term credit transactions or unsecured credit facilities only;
  • Where the person earned no more than R7,500 a month over the last six months;
    The bill also introduces a number of new offences related to debt intervention.

Under the bill, it will now be an offence for a person who intentionally submits false information related to debt intervention.

Any person who intentionally alters his or her financial circumstances, or persons who intentionally alter their joint financial circumstances, to qualify for debt intervention, will also be guilty of an offence.

The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) made it clear that it does not support the principle of debt forgiveness – for very obvious financial reasons, but also for what it would do to the lending and credit industry.

Aside from the costs banks would incur writing off the debt, the most likely reaction from banks would be to make lending conditions much tighter which would make it more difficult for the poor to secure credit, Basa said

CV fraud

The National Council of Provinces has officially adopted the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill, and the legislation has now been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.

The new bill aims to prevent South African individuals from misrepresenting their qualifications by allowing for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to establish and maintain separate registers for professional designations, misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications.

In addition to these new registers which will effectively ‘name and shame’ individuals who had been found to be holding fraudulent qualifications, the bill also introduces harsh consequences for those who are caught lying about their achievements.

Under the new act, any person convicted of an offence is liable to a fine and/or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.

BusinessTech: 17 May 2019

Eskom technical review team to deliver preliminary report in four weeks

The Eskom technical review team, appointed by the Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board on March 4, will produce a preliminary report within four weeks, Cabinet said in a statement released on the same day, March 14, that Eskom resumed load-shedding.

Cabinet said the team started its work during the week of its most recent meeting, which was held on March 13.

The 11-member team is comprised of academics, engineers and power systems professionals and is being coordinated by Dr Tsakani Mthombeni and Ian Morrison.

It has been asked to assess: plant unavailability due to scheduled maintenance; plant unavailability due to unplanned outages and unscheduled maintenance; operator errors resulting in power plants tripping and shutting down; and technical and operator-associated inefficiencies resulting in lower than optimum electricity output from the power station units.

Cabinet also received a report from Deputy President David Mabuza on the work of the joint special Cabinet committee on Eskom, established in response to recent electricity supply disruptions and its negative impact on the economy.

The committee, which includes the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Energy, Transport, Finance, Police and State Security, will coordinate government’s efforts to bring financial, operational and structural sustainability to the embattled State-owned utility.

In February, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that government would inject R23-billion a year for up to ten years into the utility, which currently has debt of more than R420-billion and is expected to report a loss of R20-billion for the 2018/19 financial year.

Eskom also had access to a R350-billion government guarantee, which had been extended to 2023.

Mabuza told lawmakers earlier in the week that the technical review team’s assessment would guide specific interventions at a power-station level to ensure that power supply disruptions are stabilised.

“Ultimately, Eskom must implement programmes that will improve the culture of accountability, productivity and efficiency at the utility. Where appropriate, it will have to dispose of non-core assets and increase its efficiencies thereby alleviating its current liquidity challenges in the short-term,” Mabuza said.

Meanwhile, Cabinet noted “good progress” made by Eskom to increase coal stocks across its power stations, but said further attention had to be given to the coal supply chain.

“Cabinet, however, remains concerned about the performance of the Medupi and Kusile power stations and has mandated the Minister of Public Enterprises to provide a comprehensive recovery plan based on a reassessment of the key drivers of the cost and time overruns for this new build project.”


Unemployment rate drops marginally to 27.1% at end of 2018

South Africa’s unemployment rate decreased to 27.1% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, Stats SA announced on Tuesday morning.

The unemployment rate at the end of the third quarter of 2018 was 27.5%, meaning the rate has fallen by 0.4 percentage points.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter, there are 16.5 million employed people and 6.1 million unemployed people between the ages of 15 and 64 years in South Africa.

The unemployment figures were in line with the estimates of analysts. Investec’s Kamilla Kaplan predicted last week that the figures could show a decline in the unemployment rate to 27.1%, noting that seasonal hiring in the services sectors in the last quarter of the year results in an improvement in the number of individuals employed.

“However, this hiring is typically reversed in the following quarter,” she said.
– Stats SA

10 predictions for the global economy in 2019

The global economy started 2018 with strong, synchronized growth. But as the year progressed, momentum faded and growth trends diverged. The US economy accelerated, thanks to fiscal stimulus enacted early in the year, while the economies of the Eurozone, the UK, Japan and China began to weaken. These divergent trends will persist in 2019. IHS Markit predicts global growth will edge down from 3.2% in 2018 to 3.1% in 2019, and keep decelerating over the next few years.

One major risk in the coming year is the sharp drop-off in world trade growth, which fell from over 5% at the beginning of 2018 to nearly zero at the end. With anticipated escalation in trade conflicts, a contraction in world trade could drag down the global economy even more. At the same time, the combined effects of rising interest rates and surging equity and commodity market volatility mean that financial conditions worldwide are tightening. These risks point to the increasing vulnerability of the global economy to further shocks, and the rising probability of a recession in the next couple of years.




Our top 10 economic forecasts for 2019:

1. The US economy will remain above trend

Based on estimates about sustainable growth in the labour force and productivity, we assess the trend, or potential, growth in the US economy to be around 2.0%. In 2018, US growth was well above trend at 2.9%, though the acceleration was almost entirely due to a large dose of fiscal stimulus in the form of tax cuts and spending increases. The impact of this stimulus will still be felt in 2019, but will diminish as the year progresses. As a result, we expect growth of 2.6% in 2019 – less than in 2018, but still above trend.

2. Europe’s expansion will slow even more

Eurozone growth peaked in the second half of 2017, and has declined steadily since then. IHS Markit predicts a further decline to 1.5% in 2019. Political uncertainty, including Brexit, challenges to Emmanuel Macron’s government, and the winding down of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship, are contributing to a decline in business sentiment. Economic factors such as the tightening of credit conditions and heightened trade tensions are also driving the deceleration in growth.

3. Japan’s recovery will remain weak, and its economy will grow less than 1% in 2019

Japan’s economy is expected to expand by 0.8% in 2018, with this rate increasing only slightly in 2019 to 0.9%. The slowdown in China’s economy and the fallout from trade tensions between the US and China are drags on growth. Monetary policy will continue to be ultra-accommodative next year. The cyclical decline in Japan’s growth is occurring in an environment of very weak long-term growth. Adverse demographics – specifically a declining labour force – are not being offset by strong enough productivity growth. The “third arrow” of Abenomics, which was supposed to implement significant structural reforms and boost productivity, has been slow to materialize.

4. China’s economy will keep decelerating

The quarterly rate of Chinese growth has been steadily edging down since the beginning of 2017, hitting its lowest level in 10 years in the third quarter of 2018. On an annual basis, the pace of expansion has slowed from 6.9% in 2017 to 6.6% in 2018, and will fall further to 6.3% in 2019. In response to recent economic shocks – including the impact of US tariffs, which has so far been limited – policy-makers have unleashed a series of monetary and fiscal measures to help support growth and stabilize financial markets.

However, these measures are likely to remain modest. Credit growth will continue to be constrained by the massive debt overhang and the government’s commitment to deleveraging, at least in the medium to long term. On the other hand, the government’s stimulus efforts may well become more aggressive if trade tensions with the US (re)escalate and growth is seriously damaged.

5. Emerging market growth will decelerate to 4.6% in 2019

Some economies, including Brazil, India and Russia, experienced a mild pickup in growth in 2018, while others, such as Argentina, South Africa and Turkey, came under intense financial pressure and suffered recessions or near-recessions. Going forward, emerging markets face a number of headwinds, including slowing growth in advanced economies and in the pace of world trade; the strong US dollar; tightening financial conditions; and rising political uncertainty in countries such as Brazil and Mexico. A few countries will be able to buck these trends, especially dynamic economies with low levels of debt, notably in Asia.

6. Commodities markets could be in for another rollercoaster ride in 2019

Demand growth next year still looks strong enough to provide commodity markets with support, making the kind of price collapse seen during 2015 unlikely. However, volatility in commodity markets will continue in 2019, particularly in oil markets. We predict oil prices will rise a bit in the near term and average around $70.0 per barrel over the coming year, compared with an average $71.0 in 2018. That said, the risks to prices of oil and other commodities are predominantly on the downside, given slowing demand growth and rising supply. Despite volatility, we predict that by the end of 2019, prices will be little different from their current readings.

7. Global inflation rates will remain close to 3.0%

Most of the rise in consumer price inflation between 2015 and 2018 – from 2.0% to 3.0% – was due to a transition in the developed world from deflationary, or near deflationary, conditions to inflation rates that are close to central banks’ targets of 2.0%. Over the near term, we expect global inflation and developed economy inflation to remain close to 3.0% and 2.0%, respectively.

While there will be upward pressures in many economies as output gaps close and unemployment rates fall – in some cases to multi-decade lows – there are downward pressures as well. Outside the US, growth is weakening. Moreover, relative to 2018, commodity prices will be relatively flat on average in 2019. Finally, with the trade war in a “temporary truce”, the upward push from tariff increases will be on hold.

8. The Fed will raise rates, and a few other central banks may follow

With the world’s key economies at different points in the business cycle, it is not surprising that central banks are moving at different speeds and in different directions. However, given weaker growth and muted inflationary pressures, the pace of removing accommodation is likely to be even more modest than previously expected.

The US Federal Reserve is likely to raise rates three times in 2019. Other central banks, including the Bank of England (depending on the Brexit process), the Bank of Canada, and a few emerging market central banks – such as those in Brazil, India and Russia – may also raise rates.

The European Central Bank will not hike rates until early 2020. Similarly, we do not believe the Bank of Japan will end its negative interest rate policy until 2021. The People’s Bank of China is the one major central bank moving in the opposite direction; worried about growth, it is providing modest stimulus.

9. The US dollar will hold at current elevated levels for much of 2019

Continued above-trend US growth and more rate hikes by the Fed are the primary reasons for this anticipated strength. Given the recent relative calm in forex markets, especially relative to emerging market currencies, another big appreciation of the US dollar seems unlikely.

Nevertheless, the potential for volatility remains very high. Political uncertainty in Europe could be very negative for the euro and sterling; we expect that the euro/dollar rate will end 2019 at around $1.10, compared with $1.14 at the end of 2018. At the same time, we predict that the renminbi/dollar rate will hold fairly steady just below the psychological level of 7.0 – the result of the Chinese government’s desire for financial stability.

10. The risks of policy shocks have risen, but probably not enough to trigger a recession in 2019

Policy mistakes remain the biggest threats to global growth in 2019 and beyond. The simmering trade conflicts are dangerous, not because they have done damage so far – they haven’t – but because they could easily escalate and get out of control. In addition, rising budget deficits in the US, high debt levels in the US, Europe and Japan, and potential missteps by key central banks all pose threats to the global economy.

The good news is that the probability of such policy mistakes seriously hurting global growth in 2019 is still relatively low. However, IHS Markit believes that the risks of damage from policy mistakes will rise in 2020 and beyond, as growth slows further.

Understanding the National Minimum Wage Act- Jacques van Wyk / 10 January 2019

The National Minimum Wage Act 9 of 2018 (NMWA) came into effect on January 1, 2019.

It provides for, among others, a national minimum wage, the establishment of a National Minimum Wage Commission, a review and annual adjustment of the national minimum wage, and the provision of an exemption from paying the national minimum wage.

Who does it apply to?

The Act applies to all workers and their employers, except members of the South African National Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Service, and volunteers who perform work for another person without remuneration. It applies to any person who works for another and who receives, or is entitled to receive, any payment for that work whether in money or in kind.

What is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage is R20 for each ordinary hour worked. There are, however, certain exceptions.

Farm workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R18 per hour. A ‘farm worker’ means a worker who is employed mainly or wholly in connection with farming or forestry activities, and includes a domestic worker employed in a home on a farm or forestry environment and a security guard on a farm or other agricultural premises, excluding a security guard employed in the private security industry.

Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R15 per hour. A ‘domestic worker’ means a worker who performs domestic work in a private household and who receives, or is entitled to receive, a wage and includes: a gardener; a person employed by a household as a driver of a motor vehicle; a person who takes care of children, the aged, the sick, the frail or the disabled; and domestic workers employed or supplied by employment services.

Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R11 per hour from a date that will be determined by the president in the Government Gazette. Expanded public works programme means a programme to provide public or community services through a labour intensive programme determined by the minister and funded from public resources.

Workers who have concluded learnership agreements contemplated in section 17 of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 are entitled to the allowances contained in Schedule 2 of the Act.

Employer’s should note that within 18 months of the commencement of the NMWA (on January 1, 2019), the National Minimum Wage Commission will review the national minimum wage of farm workers and domestic workers, and within two years, will determine an adjustment of the applicable national minimum wage. The national minimum wage in respect of workers in the expanded public works programme will be increased proportionately to any adjustment of the national minimum wage.

How is the national minimum wage calculated?

The calculation of the national minimum wage is the amount payable in money for ordinary hours of work.

It excludes:

Any payment made to enable a worker to work – including any transport, equipment, tool, food or accommodation allowance, unless specified otherwise in a sectoral determination.
Any payment in kind including board or accommodation, unless specified otherwise in a sectoral determination.
Gratuities, including bonuses, tips or gifts.
Any other prescribed category of payment.
‘Ordinary hours of work’ means the hours of work permitted in terms of section 9 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA) (currently 45 hours per week) or in terms of any agreement in terms of section 11 or 12 of the BCEA. A worker is entitled to receive the national minimum wage for the number of hours that the worker works on any day.

An employee or worker who works for less than four hours on any day must be paid for four hours for that day.

This is applicable to employees or workers who earn less than the earnings threshold set by the minister over time, presently being R205 433.30. If the worker is paid on a basis other than the number of hours worked, the worker may not be paid less than the national minimum wage for the ordinary hours of work.

Any deduction made from the remuneration of a worker must be in accordance with section 34 of the BCEA, provided that the deduction made in terms of section 34(1)(a) of the BCEA does not exceed one quarter of a worker’s remuneration.

Does a worker have a right to the national minimum wage?

Every worker is entitled to payment of a wage not less than the national minimum wage. Employers will be obligated to pay workers this wage.

The payment of the national minimum wage cannot be waived and overrides any contrary provision in a contract, collective agreement, sectoral determination or law.

Must a worker’s contract of employment be amended in light of the Act?

The national minimum wage must constitute a term of the worker’s contract, unless the contract, collective agreement or law provides for a more favourable wage. Employers should thus, where applicable, amend their contracts of employment to make reference to the national minimum wage. An employer should note further that a unilateral change of wages, hours of work or other conditions of employment in connection with the implementation of the national minimum wage will be regarded as an unfair labour practice.

When do the provisions of the Act come into effect?

The Act came into operation on January 1, 2019.

Section 4(6) of the Act – which prohibits the payment of the national minimum wage being waived and further provides that the national minimum wage takes precedence over any contrary provision in any contract, collective agreement, sectoral determination or law – operates with retrospective effect from May 1, 2017.

Can an employer be exempt from paying the national minimum wage?

An employer or employer’s organisation registered in terms of section 96 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (LRA), or any other law, acting on behalf of a member, may apply for exemption from paying the national minimum wage. The exemption may not be granted for longer than one year and must specify the wage that the employer is required to pay workers. The exemption process provided for in the regulations to the NMWA must be complied with when doing so.

An employer or a registered employer’s organisation may assist its members to apply to the delegated authority for an exemption from paying the national minimum wage.

The application must be lodged on the National Minimum Wage Exemption System.

An exemption may only be granted if the delegated authority is satisfied that the employer cannot afford to pay the minimum wage, and every representative trade union has been meaningfully consulted or if there is no such trade union, the affected workers have been meaningfully consulted. The consultation process requires the employer to provide the other parties with a copy of the exemption application to be lodged on the online system.

The determination of whether an employer can afford to pay the minimum wage must be in accordance with the Commercial, Household, or Non-Profit Organisations Financial Decision Process outlined in Schedule 1 of the Regulations to the NMWA.

The delegated authority may grant an exemption from paying the national minimum wage only from the date of the application for the exemption. The exemption must specify the period for which it is granted, which may not be more than 12 months.

The delegated authority must specify the wage that the employer is required to pay workers, which may not be less than 90% of the national minimum wage.

The delegated authority may grant an exemption on any condition that advances the purposes of the NMWA.

An employer exempted from paying the national minimum wage must display a copy of the exemption notice conspicuously at the workplace where it can be read by all employees to whom the exemption applies. Further, a copy of the exemption notice must be given to the representative trade union, every worker who requests a copy, and the bargaining council.

Any affected person may apply to the delegated authority for the withdrawal of an exemption notice by lodging an application on the online system in the prescribed format. Before the delegated authority makes the decision to withdraw an exemption notice, the delegated authority must also be satisfied that the employer has been consulted, and the representative trade union or affected workers have been given access to the application lodged.

If an exemption notice is withdrawn, the delegated authority must issue a notice of withdrawal on the Exemption System.

What is the role and responsibility of the National Minimum Wage Commission?

A National Minimum Wage Commission is established by the NMWA. The Commission must review the national minimum wage annually and make recommendations to the minister on any adjustment of the national minimum wage. The recommendations must consider: inflation, the cost of living and the need to retain the value of the minimum wage; wage levels and collective bargaining outcomes; gross domestic product; productivity; ability of employers to carry on their businesses successfully; the operation of small, medium or micro-enterprises and new enterprises; the likely impact of the recommended adjustment on employment or the creation of employment; and any other relevant factor.

Jacques van Wyk is a director and labour law specialist at Werksmans Attorneys.

The NMW exemption period is limited to 12 months-Department of Labour

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) exemptions will be limited to a maximum period of 12 months, Kekulu Padi: Assistant Director: Employment Standards, told the employers and employer organisations briefing session today, Tuesday 10, March 2018 at the Department of Labour’s Labour Centre in Port Elizabeth.

“The exemption system will be linked to the Unemployment Insurance fund, Compensation Fund, Department of Home Affairs and the South African Revenue Services. If granted, the exemption will be from the date of application and the period will be limited to a maximum of 12 months.” Padi said.

Padi said the advantage with the Department’s NMW exemption system is that it provides results of the application on the spot and there is no waiting period. She said the system will also provide reasons for the refusal and/or audit referral.

Before granting exemptions, the system will subject employers to an affordability analysis, focusing on liquidity status, profitability and solvency position. The system will not grant exemptions for applications that require immunity above the ten percent (10%) threshold of the national minimum wage. In addition, the system will provide for financial audit triggers as well as random audits. The financial audit triggers come in when information recorded into the system mismatch and random audits are done on randomly selected applicants. This will help determine as to whether the granted exemption is still relevant or needs to be withdrawn.

The system will require the employer’s particulars which will include full name of the employer, UIF reference, COIDA number, SARS number, company registration number, nature of business conducted, bargaining council details, address, personal and contact details.

The next employer briefing sessions will be held in Mpumalanga, one in Nelspruit at Promenade Hotel, c/o Samora Machel Drive and Hershall Street on March 12 and another one on March 13 at Piet Retief.

More briefing sessions are lined up for Limpopo (Tzaneen, March 16 and Polokwane, March 17) and the Free State ( Bloemfontein, March 19 and Bethlehem, March 20).

The sessions start at 10am and end at 1pm