IOPSA and PIRB set out in partnership with Harambee to find out how our industry is currently coping with the Lockdown and if they are trading as an essential service.
To view the full report and findings please click below to view the full report.
To register to attend these webinars please click here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/200441375732992524
Tuesday morning English ToolBox Talk: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8343009958858875907
Thursday morning Tech Talks: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7749421017492711171
Positioned to provide widespread and sustainable support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are financially impacted by COVID-19, the newly-established Sukuma Relief Programme comprises two distinct and separate relief offerings – one for formal sole proprietors and another for other business entities, namely close corporations, companies, and trusts.
This is according to Ben Bierman, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – one of Africa’s leading risk finance companies for SMEs and the appointed Administrator of the fund – who explains that the financial aid and assistance will comprise grants and low-interest-bearing loans with a 12-month repayment holiday.
“The Sukuma Relief Programme is structured to provide relief against the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, while leveraging further support as far as possible. Qualifying formal sole proprietors will receive a non-repayable grant of R25 000. Formal close corporations, companies and trusts will be eligible for an unsecured loan ranging between R250 000 and R1 000 000, with no repayment obligations or interest incurred for the first 12 months, in addition to a R25 000 grant,” says Bierman.
In terms of necessary criteria, he says that close corporations, companies or trusts must be registered, tax- and regulatory-compliant South African businesses that can prove viability prior to the arrival of the pandemic. “When applying, these entities will therefore be required to submit documents and supporting evidence to corroborate that it is a viable business that was impacted by COVID-19. This proof can be a demonstration of a decrease in turnover, erosion of working capital, or inability to pay salaries.
“Similarly, formal sole proprietors will need to provide proof of an active bank account to show business activity prior to the outbreak of the pandemic and provide evidence of tax compliance,” he adds
Given the gravity of the unprecedented COVID-19 disruption, Bierman says there will be a focus on swift application, approval and disbursement processing to ensure the relief is made available to qualifying SMEs as quickly as possible. “We understand that many businesses are currently in need of immediate financial relief. Disbursements will therefore be made within seven days after applying for the assistance, provided the supporting evidence is supplied and verified.”
For business owners wishing to apply, Bierman says applications will open today, Friday, 3 April 2020, on the BUSINESS/PARTNERS website (www.businesspartners.co.za). “To apply, all you need to do is visit the website and follow the simple steps to fill in an application and upload the required supporting documents.”
When asked about what their role as Administrator entails, Bierman says that BUSINESS/PARTNERS is responsible for ensuring that every cent contributed to the fund ends up in the hands of business owners. “This is a permanent vehicle to support South African SMEs in distress, and we intend to help support as many businesses as possible.
“It should be noted, in this regard, that BUSINESS/PARTNERS will not be profiting from the funding in any way, and no fees will be charged in relation to the Sukuma Relief Programme. The donors will also not be paid back at any point,” he adds.
Bierman explains that the repayment of the loan portion is an appeal to the beneficiaries of the Programme to “pay it forward” once their businesses are back on their feet, in order to allow for the continuing support of other SMEs into the future. “While the fund has been originated to provide SMEs with financial aid to assist them in weathering the COVID-19 storm, the plan is for it to run on a sustainable basis over the long term and continue to help SMEs during challenging times like this in the future,” he concludes.
About the Sukuma Relief Programme
The Sukuma Relief Programme is positioned to provide widespread and sustainable support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are financially impacted by COVID-19. The initiative is in response to the call by President Ramaphosa to all social partners to support SMEs in sustaining their business operations and preserve jobs. The Rupert Family and Remgro Limited pledged R1 billion towards this financial aid. The Sukuma Relief Programme offers distinct and separate financial aid to formal sole proprietors and other business entities, namely, close corporations, companies and trusts.
About Business Partners Ltd.
Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) is a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium owner-managed businesses in South Africa, and selected African countries. The company actively supports entrepreneurial growth by providing financing from R500, 000 to R50 million, specialist sectoral knowledge, business premises and added-value services for viable small and medium businesses. Since establishment in 1981, BUSINESS/PARTNERS has provided business finance worth over R19.5 billion in over 71 600 transactions facilitating over 651 000 jobs. BUSINESS/PARTNERS was named the Gold winner in the SME Bank of the Year – Africa category at the 2019 Global SME Finance Awards. Visit www.businesspartners.co.za for more information.
Article taken from: https://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/heres-how-to-apply-for-covid19-business-funding--b
Much confusion has arisen with the introduction of the Covid -19 temporary employee / employer relief scheme (C19 TERS), previously referred to as a “National Disaster Benefit”, in terms of a directive that was gazetted on 26 March 2020.
C19 TERS is not the only UIF relief option available in the case of temporary lay-offs. Many employers have already laid off their employees without pay and submitted claims under the UIF ‘Reduced working time’ option.
[NOTE: The confusion has by and large been caused by a more recent Easy- Aid Guide for Employers to access UIF benefits that seems to confuse C19 TERS document requirements with that of the UIF ‘Reduced working time’ option. To avoid confusion, we have made available the previous version of the UIF Easy-Aid Guide.
TEMPORARY LAY-OFF OPTIONS
1. UIF ‘Reduced working time’ option
Although indications are that the C19 TERS is likely to receive priority and seems to be preferred by Department of Labour and Employment, the ‘reduced working time’ option is still available to employers and employees.
The ‘reduced working time’ was originally intended for employees who have to work short time. This benefit was introduced fairly recently (2018) in the following terms:
“A contributor employed in any sector who loses his or her income due to reduced working time, despite being employed, is entitled to benefits if the contributor’s total income falls below the benefit level that the contributor would have received if he or she had become wholly unemployed, subject to that contributor having enough credits.”
Although not expressly stated, this scheme should also be available to employees that are on temporary lay-off without pay during the Covid-19 crisis. The following documents need to be submitted:
· UI 19 and UI 2.7 (completed by employer)
· UI 2.1 (application form)
· UI 2.8 (bank form completed by bank)
· Letter from employer confirming reduced work time (or lay-off) is due to the Coronavirus
· Copy of ID document
An “UIF Easy-Aid Guide”, as well as the relevant forms, has been send to all.
Features of the ‘reduced working time’ option:
· The claim is subject to the employee having enough credits.
· The claim is by the employee (with the assistance of the employer).
· The employee has to obtain a UI-19 form and then get a bank authorisation in respect of the account into which the benefit is to be paid, which will be a challenge, especially during the lock-down.
· Submission can be made online to the relevant processing centre (See list of processing centres at the end of UIF Easy-Aid Guide available at the link below).
· The benefit will be calculated in terms of the income replacement rate sliding scale of 38 % (for high earners) up to 60 % (for low earners) as provided in the Unemployment Insurance Act, subject to the maximum threshold as determined from time to time.
· It is possible that lower earning employees may get out less than the minimum wage under this dispensation.
· Payment is made by the UIF directly into the employee’s bank account.
· Subject to available credits the employee can (theoretically) receive this benefit for up to 12 months.
2. Covid-19 temporary employee / employer relief scheme (C19 TERS)
This scheme is intended to provide emergency relief to enable employers to pay employees who are temporarily laid off due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The directive appears in the Government Gazette (No. 43161) on 26 March 2020, sets the C19 TERS out the basis of the scheme as follows:
“Should an employer as a direct result of Covid-19 pandemic close its operations for a 3 (three) months or lesser period and suffer financial distress, the company shall qualify for a Covid19 Temporary Relief Benefit.”
(The Government Gazette is available at the link below.)
Features of the COVID-19 TERS option:
· It is a separate benefit scheme (separate from normal UIF benefits with its own set of forms and requirements) which cannot be claimed at the same time as the UIF ‘reduced working time’ benefit.
· It applies where the company has closed its operations as a direct result of Covid-19 (at this stage this option does not seem to apply if the company doesn’t close entirely, but lays off only some of its employees)
· Claims are not dependent on an employee having any UIF credits and will be entitled to benefits irrespective of how long they have contributed.
· The company (rather than the employee) submits a claim for UIF and the company then pays over the money to employees.
· Online process: Send blank email to Covid19ters@labour.gov.za and you receive an automated response with the relevant forms and other requirements.
· The UIF will be prepared to “top up” any payment made by the employer (by prior arrangement with the UIF).
· The benefit will be calculated in terms of the income replacement rate sliding scale of 38 % (for high earners) up to 60 % (for low earners) as provided in the Unemployment Insurance Act, subject to the maximum threshold which is currently R17712. Despite conflicting reports, our understanding is that the maximum benefit for a high earner would be 38 % of R17 712 a month, which amounts to about R6 730 a month.
· For the duration of the shutdown or a maximum period of three months, the benefit will be not less than the minimum wage (referred to as a ‘flat rate’ of R3500 per month). After the expiry of this 3-month period, the employee might receive less than the minimum wage based on the above sliding scale.
· There is supposed to be a faster turnaround time with processing (According to the agreement to be signed with the UIF the benefit should be paid out to the company within 30 days of a valid submission).
· The company has to enter into a written agreement with the UIF if it has 10 or more employees (updated in the latest “COVID 19 TERS EASY AID).
· The company has to fulfil a number of administrative requirements, e.g. proof of payroll for the last three months.
· The company has to open a dedicated UIF bank account, or clear an existing account, so that Covid-19 benefits can be tracked.
(A Covid-19 TERS Easy Aid is available at the link below.)
Which lay-off option do I choose?
There are several considerations. The Covid-19 TERS seems to be intended for as emergency relief with a relatively quick turnaround time. Some bargaining councils and large consortia of employers have been encouraged to make use of this scheme. They would make bulk submissions and, once the benefits are paid over to them, they would pay the benefits to the employees. This should ease the administrative burden on the UIF.
Covid-TERS also seems well suited for employers who foresee that they will not be able to pay their employees in full for a significant period (up to 3 months). The UIF intends to help ‘top up’ salaries to the extent allowed by the income replacement rate sliding scale (but only if this has been agreed upfront with the UIF). This type of relief seems to be in sharp focus by the UIF.
Smaller companies may also make use of the benefit. They would have to decide based on their prospects of recovery, and whether it is worth their while to comply with the Covid-19 TERS requirements. They also need to consider the practical difficulties that their employees may experience in obtaining their benefits, especially during the lock-down period (which may be extended). The UIF Commissioner has indicated that employers with less than ten employees do not have to enter into the prescribed agreement (MOA) with the UIF. Small employers may be accommodated in other ways, but it is not clear to what extent. Each company will be judged on its own individual merits. We have our doubts about the capacity of the UIF to give much individual attention in the current circumstances.
Employers must make a choice. They cannot claim under both systems at the same time. It is not clear whether an employer who has already submitted under the ‘reduced working time’ option can withdraw that submission and claim under Covid-19 TERS. In our view this should be possible, though. The UIF Commissioner has indicated that companies that want to make use of Covid-19 TERS should do so before the end of the current lock-down.
While Covid-19 TERS appears to have unique and helpful features, it is a new system and there are likely to be teething problems.
There is no clear right or wrong way. Each company should make a choice based on its own circumstances.
There have been conflicting reports on what employers are entitled to do with regard to leave.
In our view the point of departure is this: The 21-day lock-down has been imposed by Government. Neither employers nor employees are to blame. Employees who have to stay at home are unable to tender their services due to the lock-down. They are not entitled to be paid. So, what measures are available to mitigate the financial deprivation suffered by employees during the lock-down?
There seem to be the following options:
1. Employees take the annual leave that is due to them.
2. UIF benefits (UIF ‘reduced working time’ benefit or Coivid-19 TERS benefit).
3. Employers pay their employees in part or in full, if they have the resources to do so (even though they have no obligation).
4. Employers grant their employees loans.
On 26 March 2020, a directive was issued by the SA Government acknowledging an employer’s right to insist that employees take annual leave. However, the directive encourages employers to make use of the Covid-19 TERS relief instead (The directive is available at the link below). Until such time that this directive is replaced with a new directive, statements by politicians and others that are in conflict with the directive do not have to be taken seriously.
Employers may already have an arrangement in place that employees use their annual leave credits during the lock-down. It has the advantage of providing immediate financial relief during the lock-down. In such cases employers may decide to apply for the Covid-19 TERS relief. If the claim is successful, the leave granted can be formally reversed. If the Covid-19 TERS benefit is not granted, it would be in order to maintain the original leave arrangement.
Employers can only be expected to do what is reasonable in the light of their unique circumstances and the resources they have available to them.
COIDA AND SICK LEAVE
Covid-19 has been declared an occupational disease. If an employee is absent due to contracting the Coronavirus out of and in the course of his or her employment, it will not be regarded as sick leave. Instead it would be covered in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act of 1993 (COIDA). The employee must as soon as possible after the commencement of a disease give written notice thereof to his or her employer or to the employer where he or she was last employed, and he or she may also give written notice of the said disease in the prescribed manner to the compensation commissioner. Thereafter, a further process needs to be followed by the employer and a medical practitioner. If, however, it cannot be shown that the Coronavirus was contracted in the course of the employee’s employment, any period of absence as a result of being infected will be regarded as sick leave.
OTHER UIF OPTIONS
Illness benefits for 14-day quarantine period
This UIF benefit is available to employees who are quarantined for 14 days due the Coronavirus (i.e. “special leave”), irrespective whether the employee has contracted the virus or not. No medical certificate is needed for the first 14 days but the employer and employee have to submit a letter of proof that they have agreed to “special leave”. In addition to the letter referred to above, there is certain other documentation that has to be submitted (See “UIF Easy-Aid Guide” which is available at the link below).
While this option is available in principle, it is not available during the 21-day lock-down, except for employees who are able to work due to being part of essential services. At this stage it seems that it may be used after the lock-down, though.
In the unfortunate event that an employee passes away, certain beneficiaries may apply for benefits (See “UIF Easy-Aid Guide” at the link below). The following documents need to be submitted:
· UI 19 and UI 53 (completed by employer)
· UI 2.5 or UI 2.6
· Death certificate
· Copies of ID documents of applicant and the deceased
OTHER ‘TERS’ BENEFITS (NON COVID-19 RELATED)
There is another temporary relief benefit scheme (TERS) that was originally introduced towards the end of 2019. It was introduced to assist employers in distress, in order to avoid retrenchments. This scheme – which is overseen by the CCMA – is not to be confused with the Covid-19 TERS scheme.
Click here to download the Step by Step Guide to claim UIF TERS Fund
Click here to download the National Lockdown Deceleration by Employers
Safe work place procedure document
Emergency call out sheet
The impact of the Coronavirus in the workplace: Part 1
by Jan du Toit, SA Labour Guide
This is the first article in a series on the implications of the Coronavirus in the workplace.
In addition to the publications, we will also introduce a series of free webinars.
We have been inundated with enquiries pertaining to the president's announcement of a state of emergency pertaining to the Coronavirus in South Africa. As our president indicated, the virus is now spreading internally, and the possibility thereof is in all workplaces in South Africa is now a reality.
The purpose of this short message is not to repeat everything already known about the virus and precautionary measures that may be taken, but instead to answer a couple of questions pertaining to absence from work during the next couple of weeks, possibly months.
Labour legislation does not make provision for emergency sick or annual leave for instances such as the present. Any absence from the workplace without permission must however still be justified by the employee by means of a medical certificate in the event that the employee has been absent from work for more than two consecutive working days or on the third occasion during an eight week cycle.
Employees should however be encouraged to disclose general symptoms of a cold or flu to the HR Department without delay. Such employees will be required to stay at home until such time they are fit to return to work. They will however still be required to justify their absence by means of a medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner. Should the employee be able to justify absence from work by means of such a certificate, the period of absence will be paid from the employee’s sick leave entitlement. Should the employee not have sufficient sick leave available, such absence will unfortunately be without any remuneration or benefits, unless annual leave is available for payment purposes or if otherwise decided by the employer.
Employers should also take note of the fact that schools will close this Wednesday until after Easter weekend. The aforementioned comes as a surprise to employees that have school going children below the age of 18 that will now have to be accommodated during the extended school holiday. Again, no special leave is applicable for the aforementioned, but employers will be required to reasonably accommodate the absence of parents whose children must be looked after during this period, especially applicable for young children.
Uncompleted Disciplinary Incapacity Proceedings
Where disciplinary action or incapacity proceedings are interrupted as a result of the presence of the virus in a workplace or due to the absence of the employee or witnesses; employers are advised to notify the employee in writing of its intent to continue with such disciplinary action or incapacity proceedings when circumstances have normalised.
Incapacity proceedings for employees that are infected by the virus is not recommended. The Coronavirus is a temporary medical condition with the employee most probably being able to return to the workplace later, fit for normal duty.
Where it is impossible to continue with normal business activities, employers will be required to temporarily lay-off employees. Due consideration must however be given to relevant Bargaining Council Main Agreements where the business falls under the scope of such council. Such layoff is normally unpaid and as alternative to retrenchment.
We are still awaiting guidance from the CCMA pertaining to matters that are currently on the roll and that are to be determined in a place where more than hundred people will gather. It is our opinion that the CCMA will have to introduce drastic measures in this regard.
We wish you all the best during this trying period and pray that you, your loved ones and employees remain unaffected.
Jan du Toit can be contacted at email@example.com.
What are Coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
What is COVID-19?
A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.
How can you get COVID-19?
Since this novel coronavirus was only recently identified, there is currently limited information regarding the modes of transmission, clinical features and severity of disease. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
The air by coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
What are the signs and symptoms?
There is limited information regarding clinical features, and severity of disease at this stage. For confirmed COVID-19 infections, reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
Symptoms can include:
Shortness of breath.
Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
What is the treatment for COVID-19?
Treatment is supportive as no specific therapy has been shown to be effective. People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare providers immediately.
How can you reduce the risk of exposure?
There are certain steps you can take to reduce your exposure to COVID-19:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow or a tissue. Throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Stay home when you are sick.
Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
Seek medical care early and share your previous travel history with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
When visiting animal markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.
Avoid travel if you have a fever and cough. If you become sick while using public transport, inform the personnel and seek medical care early.
COVID-19 and Plumbers
Since there is little known about the current COVID-19 outbreak, the need for vigilant exposure awareness is crucial, especially to those working in areas that pose an immediate threat to this exposure.
So what can you do as a plumber who will work in areas that may contain or have the potential to contain the COVID-19 virus?
Start by ensuring you have the necessary protections against any type of virus or pathogen you may encounter, such as when working in a sewer or waste pipelines. The need to know the environment and area you are working in then, is of vital importance.
SAFETY FOR PLUMBERS – WASTE PIPES / SEWERS
These areas can be particularly dangerous to your health due to the exposure or potential exposure to hazardous chemical substances or hazardous biological agents and COVID-19
If you are unsure about the atmosphere or area you are going to work in, ensure the facts are checked and proper monitoring has been done prior to accessing the area.
You must follow all precautions before entering a space that has the potential to expose you to hazardous elements such as COVID-19.
If you are working with a waste pipe and will use certain chemicals or substances then follow these tips:
Eliminate - remove the risk altogether if this is at all possible.
Substitute - find a safer substitute e.g. such as a different working method.
Safeguard - put technical solutions in place that protect the worker e.g. mechanical ventilation, machinery guards, remote controls etc.
Warn and Educate - implement worker training and install suitable alarm and warning systems.
*Always ensure fresh air is pumped into the area.
It is important to care for your hygeine while working in these ares and where there is a risk to exposure to COVID-19. Thus you must set asside time for the proper care of yourself and the tools, equipment and PPE you are using.
Here are some guidelines to follow when working in an area where COVID-19 is a possible exposure:
Wash your hands regularly and follow the guidance and technique set out for correct hand cleaning methods. Perhaps carry around some hand sanitiser in your toolbox if you cannot get to an area where hand soap is available.
Keep tools and equipment clean, especially after using them. Try not to share tools or equipment where possible to eliminate the possibility of cross contamination.
When cleaning or washing your PPE, be sure to keep it away from other clothing or personal household items and store them in a clean area away from the elements such as rain, dirt or sun.
If you feel sick or know of someone in your team is feeling sick, report it as soon as possible and get the needed medical attention required.
Personal Protective Equipment
PPE – Personal Protective Equipment is important for any task that is performed where there is a potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
When we look at the COVID-19 virus, we should not think that just because we know little about the virus, its symptoms or even how to prevent it, that we cannot protect ourselves and those who may be affected by our tasks.
Treat any and all potential areas with the risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a Hazardous Environment and plan accordingly. Ensure you have the correct PPE to prevent the exposure levels.
The incorrect specification of protective gear risks putting personnel in danger and at the very least will negatively affect their productivity. To complicate matters, some of the risks that are presented by certain COVID-19 are not necessarily immediately apparent. The consequences of exposure to these can manifest themselves several years down the line, long after the point of encounter.
So great care must be exercised in the specification of suitable workwear against known or anticipated risks. The use of PPE (unless mandatory) must be dictated by the risk assessment for the activity or environment concerned and this must include giving due consideration to the crucial issue of user comfort. PPE that is difficult to put on or take off, that is uncomfortable to wear, that prevents or limits movement or unduly restricts work activities will always meet user resistance. Selecting user-acceptable PPE can be every bit as important as, and even more difficult than, selecting the appropriate technical specification.
While PPE should only be relied upon as a last line of defence, its use is essential when working where exposure to COVID-19.
It must always be remembered that PPE only protects the individual wearer, it does not tackle the cause of the risk exposure. It is important that all possibilities of removing the hazard altogether are exhausted before considering ways of limiting operator exposure.
What type of PPE should I get?
Safety Goggles – Ones that cover the eyes and to protect eyes from splashes of human waste or sewage.. 3m GoggleGear 500 is the type mostly recommended as they have a Scotchguard Anti-Fog application for best control. Look for something similar to this.
Safety Shoes – When selecting safety shoes or boots, it is best done by understanding what you will be standing or walking though. In a sewer you will preferably be looking for Rubber boots to prevent exposure to human waste or sewage. – Look out for something like the Stimela XP from Pienaar Bro’s.
Protective face mask or splash-proof face shield - N95 respirators and surgical masks (face masks) are examples of personal protective equipment that are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face.
Liquid-repellent coveralls - to keep human waste or sewage off clothing. Look for a Tyvek disposable or reusable suite depending on the amount of exposure times.
Waterproof gloves – Latex or Nitrile gloves. These thin, moisture resistant gloves protect against exposure to infectious, and other biologically hazardous materials.
Neither IOPSA nor OHSS Consulting are experts on the COVID-19 virus and are not Expert Health practitioners.
The information contained in this statement has been researched by OHSS Consulting using industry standards, as well as current know information regarding the COVID-19 virus and may change at any time.
Please take care to look after the Health and Safety of yourself, your team and those who may be affected by your scope of work.
Please find some additional information by following these links:
Thank you for taking the time to read this statement.
IOPSA & The OHSS Consulting Team
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PREVENTION POSTER FOR YOUR OFFICE
IOPSA will investigate a complaint – it receives on average 11 a week – and the cost of this service is free of charge if the plumbing company is an IOPSA member.
The procedure on submitting a complaint is to complete the online IOPSA complaints form, in which case the consumer will be required to do the following:
• Understand the complaints procedure – which can be downloaded on the IOPSA website.
• Be willing and able to allow the member of institute named to be present at any inspections carried out by the IOPSA.
• Agree to arrange access for such inspections if required to do so.
• Be willing and able to allow the member of the institute named reasonable access to carry out any necessary remedial works.
• To the best of their knowledge, to confirm the details given on the form are complete and correct, and request IOPSA to investigate the complaint.
In fact, many people opt as their first action to telephone IOPSA, in which case they will be put in touch with Celmarie Smit, National Membership Administrator, who will instruct them as above. Having worked some years for a plumbing firm in Mossel Bay, she is familiar with the types of problems that typically arise, assisting her to filter complaints to the relevant IOPSA people.
“It is important to note that IOPSA does not get involved in issues relating to pricing: that is a contractual issue between the consumer and the plumber and beyond our scope. We only get involved in issues relating to the quality of service, technical performance and the issuing of Certificates of Compliance (CoCs),” says Smit.
“Thereafter it will be referred to a technical IOPSA person who will in most instances send an inspector to assess whether there is validity to the complaint. Based on those findings, the plumber will be called upon to take remedial action if needed.”
Smit points out that it is essential that the person answering the phone has an understanding of plumbing issues, and is at least bilingual. Most callers rarely state they are ‘lodging a complaint’ but rather give an in-depth description of their total experience with a plumber.
IOPSA Executive Director Brendan Reynolds explains that the association will pursue complaints lodged even against plumbers who are not members of IOPSA. Its recourse in this instance is more limited, though it does on occasion take a problem all the way to court where it acts as an expert witness, although the complainant has to bear the costs.
IOPSA takes an impartial view of complaints, with Reynolds noting that from its records in half the cases the plumber is not at fault but rather the consumer – or there can be other factors. “We sometimes find nothing wrong with the plumbing when we send out an inspector; and we also find cases where the plumber has done his/her job perfectly, but which for some unrelated reason has affected water pressure somewhere else on the property. We also commonly have cases where the consumer refuses to pay, and then it becomes difficult to persuade the plumber to either finish a job or take remedial action. Disputes can become highly-charged and emotional on both sides.”
IOPSA’s focus is at all times to have positive outcomes from what can otherwise be a negative experience. “There’s no doubt there are some unqualified people posing as Licensed Plumbers, and this brings the entire profession into disrepute. Through this process, we aim to improve the reputation of the industry, while getting consumers to understand the value in using an IOPSA member. Most plumbers, once their defective work is pointed out to them by a suitably trained inspector, are also prepared to learn from the experience and effect correction to their faulty workmanship,” says Reynolds.
Bianca Quinn, IOPSA Complaints and Inspections Manager, says, “The bulk of complaints are to do with workmanship, pricing and both CoCs and Municipal Certificates of Compliance. Clients often fail to obtain three quotations and frequently Google search a plumber in an emergency – isolate the water, then make a conscious decision as to service provider by searching IOPSA’s find-a-plumber tool. IOPSA does not have the jurisdiction over municipal complaints, nor pricing matters.
“Consumers are often treated unethically by un-registered plumbers, and with little to no recourse this becomes a challenge. In many instances, there is nothing in writing and a ‘he-said, she-said’ scenario unfolds.”
Quinn explains that complaints are directed by IOPSA’s national office to the complaints administrator (herself) for guidance and best resolution. “Should there be a valid complaint, the forms and supporting evidence are submitted to the Complaints Portal online, whereby a ticket is generated. Thereafter an inspector from the regional committee is appointed by myself. Once the inspector has reviewed the complaint, they shall establish whether an inspection is necessitated. The inspector then contacts the parties to obtain clarity and mediate, which is preceded by the site inspection.
“Consumers and even plumbers contact the complaints office telephonically daily and after discussion with either the National Operations Manager, Steve Brown, or myself – are typically extremely thankful for the guidance in not only their current experience, but also going forward. The complaints office handle all aspects and we are so deeply entrenched within Industry that we are equipped to guide consumers and plumbers in the right path no matter the query,” says Quinn.
With the advent of the IOPSA Transformation Policy a new complaint category was recently activated; complaints relating to discrimination. These complaints will be investigated and dealt with by the Transformation Committee. Anyone who has experienced discrimination is welcome to lodge a formal complaint with IOPSA.
You can lodge a complaint on www.iopsa.org
By Eamonn Ryan
IOPSA Membership Fees: 01 March 2020 to 28 February 2021
Please find below the membership fees for the Plumbing Contractor Membership Category in respect of the March 2020 to February 2021 Financial Year (incl. 15% VAT).
The invoice will be generated from Intuit Quickbooks on 01 March 2020 as follows:
Plumbing Contractor (Regional Annual) - R5486
Plumbing Contractor (National Annual) - R19 659
However, we are pleased to inform you that a discount will apply as follows:
5% DISCOUNT - MEMBERSHIP FEE RENEWAL AND FULL ANNUAL PAYMENT RECEIVED BEFORE 31 MARCH 2020
10% DISCOUNT - MEMBERSHIP FEE RENEWAL AND FULL ANNUAL PAYMENT RECEIVED BEFORE THE 31ST OF MARCH 2020 AND B-BBEE CERTIFICATE SUBMITTED TO firstname.lastname@example.org
The discount options will show on the invoice as well. If you do not receive an invoice, please inform the National Office, 011 454 0025, alternatively email@example.com
NB! NO DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR PAYMENTS RECEIVED AFTER 31 MARCH 2020.
1. Membership fees are due 01 March yearly.
2. Membership is confirmed once payment is received.
3. In the event of cancelling your membership, members must inform the National Office, in writing, one month prior to the new financial year (end of February). Should you cancel your membership during the financial year, you will be liable for outstanding membership fees and membership fees in respect of the remainder of the financial year.
Click here to download the formal notice
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact the IOPSA National Office 011 454 0025, alternatively firstname.lastname@example.org
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