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  • All
  • HR & Labour Law
  • Government Measures & Economic Support
  • Travel Agency Operations
  • Supplier Relations
  • IATA & BSP
  • Travel Information
What are the requirements to qualify for COVID-19 TERS?

The company must: be registered with the UIF comply with the application procedure, and have closed directly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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What is the application process for Corona Virus Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (COVID-19 TERS)

According to the Covid-19 TERS Easy Aid issued by the UIF Office, employers must follow these steps to apply for Covid-19 TERS benefits: Step 1: Apply Employers must apply by reporting their closure to email box Covid19ters@labour.gov.za. You will receive an automatic response outlining the application process. Step 2: Submit Employers must submit documents required to the UIF at Covid19claims@labour.gov.za. Key documents required: ·       Letter

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How should employees submit UIF claims for reduced work time, illness and death benefits?

Employers must complete the required forms. The employer or employee should then submit the completed forms through the following methods: A claim for illness can be lodged online at: ufiling.co.za. (Illness benefits) Email the application to the nearest UIF processing Centre. (Illness/ Reduced Work Time/Death benefits) Fax the application to the nearest UIF processing Centre. (Illness/ Reduced Work Time/Death benefits) Application forms can be downloaded from

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A Guide To Your First Decisions And Your Options

You should immediately classify your workforce into the following categories: Staff who are critical to your business and who can work remotely. Staff who can work reduced hours and can work remotely. Staff whose services are not needed right now (whether they could work remotely or not). Staff who cannot work remotely. You can take different approaches to these different categories of employees. This will

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Why Is Retrenchment Not A Good Idea During The Government Lockdown?

When you retrench, you have to pay any accrued annual leave, notice periods and severance (one week for every completed year of service). And you cannot arrange for payment plans. So it won’t solve your cashflow problems. Retrenchment processes take a lot of time – and you have to continue paying your employees while you do it.  So it won’t solve your immediate problems. Here

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Should You At Least Start The Retrenchment Process During The Lockdown?

This depends on how much cash you have on hand and how long you think it will take before bookings pick up again. You need to calculate something called your cash burn rate to figure out how much time you can trade for. If you don’t think things are going to pick up before you run out of cash, you should consider starting the retrenchment

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What Is Short Time?

You can ask your employees to work for less hours or less days per week than they would normally. This means that you will also pay them less. They will be able to claim from the UIF for the difference between what they used to earn and what they will earn now. The UIF formula of 38-60% of the UIF cap of R14 872 will be applied,

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What Is A Temporary Lay Off?

When employees do not work at all for a certain period. This period can be days, weeks or months depending on the circumstances. In such circumstances, the employees would not be paid, but would still be the company’s employees. They will be able to claim from the UIF during a temporary lay-off. The UIF formula of 38-60% of the UIF cap of R14 872 will

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What Is The Process I Must Follow To Put Someone On Short Time Or To Do A Temporary Lay Off?

You can’t just unilaterally change your employees’ conditions of employment, so you are going to have to consult, but it is not as onerous as the retrenchment period. Here are the steps you have to take: Issue staff with the “notice of intention to introduce short time/temporary lay-off” document you will find here. During lock-down it will be considered reasonable to cut the consultation process

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When Can Employees Claim For UIF

What is the benefit called and what is it for? When should you claim? How does it work? What application forms are required? Reduced work time benefit   This benefit applies if ·       a company shuts down for a certain period, ·       employees are laid off temporarily, or ·       short time is implemented.   Employees can claim for this benefit during and after the lockdown.

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What Is The National Disaster Benefit?

The employer may decide to close their entire business for a period and send employees home. If the employer cannot pay his employees for this period, the employer can apply for the “National Disaster Benefit” from the UIF. This benefit will be at a flat rate equal to the minimum wage (R3 500) per employee per month for the duration of the shutdown or a

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What If An Employee Gets Infected At Work?

When an employee is infected, because they came to work, they may claim from the Compensation Fund in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA). Here is the link to the Government Notice which extended these benefits to COVID-19 cases. Please note that it is compulsory for all companies with one employee or more to register with the Compensation Fund and

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How Do We Approach Leave During The Lockdown Period?

Each organisation will have different leave policies suited to their particular needs. In this section we attempt to answer some of your questions relating to leave. When do employees qualify for paid sick leave for COVID-19? If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 (confirmed by a medical doctor) or if they have symptoms and get booked off by a doctor, normal sick leave applies.

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What should ASATA members be doing right now?

In addition to keeping tabs on the Government interventions discussed above, ASATA members are encouraged to take the following actions to preserve their cash flow in the short term: Consider our employment FAQ for options such as short time and temporary lay-offs. This is the single biggest cost-saving measure you can employ now. In extreme cases, consider whether you shouldn’t close your business temporarily. Apply

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What Relief Is Available For Big Businesses?

We realise that a lot of these interventions are aimed at propping up SMMEs and that large businesses will feel over-looked. The information is still coming in and ASATA is closely monitoring what the Government is doing and will provide regular updates.

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Will There Be Debt Relief For Businesses From Private Banks?

In his speech on 23 March 2020, President Ramaphosa said the following: ‘Commercial banks have been exempted from provisions of the Competition Act to enable them to develop common approaches to debt relief and other necessary measures.’ These banks have so far made announcements regarding debt relief: Standard Bank Nedbank FNB

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What Other Assistance Is Available for Businesses That Are in Distress?

In his speech on 23 March 2020, President Ramaphosa announced these relief measures as part of the COVID-19 economic stimulus package. We don’t have a lot of information on these interventions yet, but are closely monitoring the situation. For now, here is what the President said in his speech. 1. A tax subsidy for employees ‘Using the tax system, we will provide a tax subsidy

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Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS)

1. What is TERS? There is also the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) which is being administered by the Department of Labour and Employment. In terms of the TERS process, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) may fund distressed companies directly in order to prevent retrenchments. Here is an ‘easy aid’ to understanding TERS. Bear in mind that it was not created with COVID-19 in mind,

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COVID-19 Small Business Relief Centre

The National Small Business Chamber has launched the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Centre. You can sign up for free for ongoing tips, news and support. They will also campaign on your behalf to encourage providers to implement: low-interest disaster recovery loans, moratoriums on vehicle and equipment leases, bond repayments etc, negotiating and staying in contact with suppliers, landlord negotiation with regard to property leases. Here

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Department of Tourism Relief Fund: What Is It and Who Qualifies?

You can read more about the Department of Tourism’s Relief Fund in a formal statement on the Department’s website here. The Department has made R200 million available to assist SMMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the restrictions placed on travel. 1. What types of businesses qualify for assistance? Travel agents and tour operators qualify. Here is the

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The SMME Debt Relief Fund

1. What is the SMME Debt Relief Fund? The Department of Small Business Development has made R500 million available for small, micro and medium enterprises. Here is a link to an interview with the Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Small Business Development, Sarah Mokwebo. She specifically stated that they will look at industries such as tourism, which is going to be the hardest

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The solidarity fund: What is it and how can you access it?

You can read more about the Solidarity Fund here. This is what we know so far. The Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has described the Solidarity Fund as follows: ‘It’s designed to unite the nation and accelerate the country’s response to COVID-19. The focus of the fund is in four areas – it’s to alleviate the suffering and distress caused by the virus to

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Does the CPA apply to foreigners and foreign travel service providers?

Sometimes it does. It will depend on where the contract was concluded. To determine this can be quite technical, but here are some pointers: If the travel service provider has an office here and the transaction took place over the counter or telephone, the CPA will apply. For online transactions, section 22 of the Electronic Transactions and Communications Act will apply. The transaction is concluded

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Can the consumer claim for any other types of loss?

When flights get cancelled, a lot of consumers are trying to claim for accommodation and other bookings they have made that they can no longer honour. Under these circumstances, can an airline be held responsible for those costs if the consumer can’t get a refund? If there has been a travel ban or other circumstances beyond the travel service provider’s control, the consumer is not

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Can a travel agent be forced to refund the traveller in cash, even if the travel service provider refuses to refund the agent?

The fact of the matter is that many travel service providers are not currently offering cash refunds, because of the severity of the COVID-19 crisis or because they believe that the CPA doesn’t apply to them (whether they are right or wrong is immaterial right now). Technically speaking, travel agents are considered retailers in terms of the CPA. You can argue that you are just

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Airlines often have non-refundable tickets – is that legal?

Strictly speaking, that has never been legal. Consumers always have the right to cancel (for no reason) in terms of section 17. All the airline is entitled to do is charge a reasonable cancellation penalty. The cancellation penalty can be quite high, particularly when tickets were sold at a discounted price, but refusing to give any refund at all is not considered reasonable. For more

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Do travel agents have to refund the customer their fees?

No. Whether there is a travel ban or not, the travel agent has already performed a service and should be paid for that. For more information on cancellations and refunds, please click here.

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What are the legal recourses if airlines change their waivers and refund policies on a daily basis?

It’s a moving target. Airlines are also finding it incredibly difficult to manage this situation. The airline terms and conditions are very different to any other contract. For more information on cancellations and refunds, please click here.

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What measures do we have in place with forward bookings with money that is already paid over to tour operators?

There are no measures in place. It sounds very blunt but the travel industry in South Africa is not regulated. Ultimately, you are selecting your suppliers based on confidence and trust that they are delivering the product and services you have been requested to deliver to your customers. There are no mechanisms, there are no requirements to put money in trust funds. I think it’s

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If Airlines refuse a refund, would the Consumer Protection Act force the airline to refund?

There are some challenges with regards to how the Consumer Protection Act works. One of the challenges is an ongoing delay in terms of the airlines providing specific codes of behaviour and conduct in terms of airlines and Consumer Protection. The Consumer Protection Act was always designed for consumer items that are disposable and easy to replace. The situation will be different depending on whether

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How can ASATA assist with keeping us up to date with changing supplier policies?

In terms of suppliers, ASATA is currently developing a table of content where you will have one point of resource with all the change policies, cancellation policies and communication strategies. You will find that on our website. Keep in mind that the situation is incredibly fluid and we’re seeing changes happening multiple times a day. For more information on cancellations and refunds, please click here.

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Can ASATA assist with supplier lobbying?

This is a challenging issue for us. Travel agents have commercial agreements in place with suppliers. We are not involved in your commercial agreements. In fact, we cannot get involved in your commercial agreements because ultimately the association cannot be seen to be attempting to influence specific commercial policies. It would look as if we were colluding or working collectively on one particular outcome. Having

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Will IATA consider reviewing remittance periods?

IATA has advised that remittance periods will be kept in accordance to the current BSP Calendars. Extending the periods will disadvantage both Airlines and Agents. Agents refunds would be delayed if Remittance periods were to be extended.

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Will IATA consider suspending payment?

IATA has advised that a blanket exception to suspend compliance with Resolutions may result in a risky situation impacting Agents and Airlines alike. The BSP needs to receive complete remittances from Agents as well as negative settlements from Airlines to be able to settle all payments, including balances due to Agents.

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Will IATA consider a reduction BSP payments?

No. However, IATA is considering giving travel agents some leeway – up to three days outside of the normal cycle – to make the payments. Obviously, if you are planning to use that service, you will need to request it. IATA has advised that in case an Agent’s Remittance to the BSP is delayed, the Agency Administrator will exercise his/her authority and, on a case-by-case

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We have guarantees in place with IATA to protect the airlines. How will IATA protect us if the airlines go out of business?

We were advised that when IATA finds that an airline may be in financial difficulty, they would request for that airline to put up additional guarantees to protect the money within the BSP. I have suggested to IATA that they need to take a long hard look at the policy around business- As-usual when we are not operating in business-as-usual times. So, I have suggested

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How can ASATA assist with reviewing BSP settlements?

In our survey, we asked you whether you believe that your BSP refunds would exceed forward sales. It is very evident that has already happened and that is going to have a severe impact on your cash flows. Until the end of April, South African travel agents are on a monthly remittance. That means that you are remitting money this month for sales that took

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How long will the travel bans be in place?

ASATA is working with the government around travel bans; visa requirements. We are liaising with them to know how long they believe this ban will be in place. The government has given us a promise that they will continue without giving a specific timeline. It will continue to review the current travel ban and make decisions based on information that is available to them whether

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What role is ASATA playing in terms of lobbying government?

ASATA’s role is to represent the industry on the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. The TBCSA is our primary channel to government when it comes to lobbying and engaging on issues that affect us. There have been engagements with the Minister of Tourism, and we have used the platform made available to us to engage her directly and indirectly on some of the issues

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How can travel agents take measures to improve their cash flow?

There are a number of ways travel agents can improve their cash flow. If you’re providing a provident fund, contact the provident fund and speak to them about having some sort of deferment of contributions for the next two to three months i. Take those discussions up with medical aid as well. There are probably a number of other areas were your business can minimise

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Can travel agents charge professional service fees to process cancellations?

It depends on what was agreed with the customer. If you agreed upfront that a fee would be payable for changes to the booking, you can still charge that fee. If there is no agreement about cancellations, the travel agent can try to conclude a new agreement with the customer for the subsequent cancellation, or deduct it from the refund as part of the reasonable

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When can an employer withhold or reduce salaries and other types of payment to your employees?

The short answer is, it will depend on the specific circumstances and employers should get legal advice before you consider it. Here are some guidelines: • You can offer reduced hours, reduced pay or voluntary unpaid leave to all of your employees in an effort to save the business until the crisis ends. If they all agree (and we have seen examples of that already),

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When does retrenchment become an option?

Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act provides for the dismissal of employees based on ‘operational requirements’. The Labour Relations Acts defines ‘operational requirements’ as the ’requirements based on the economic, technological, structural or similar needs of an employer’. Section 189 has specific steps an employer is required to follow, many of which require consultation with impacted employees and considering alternatives. If an employer chooses

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What if the employee has not yet tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibited symptoms, but is placed in quarantine?

Many employees who are not ill may have to stay at home nonetheless, because they have: • travelled to a high or medium risk country, • been in contact with someone who is sick, • to look after their children who are home from school, • pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable and are staying home as a precaution. It is also possible that the

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If employees have run out of sick leave, they might be able to claim from the UIF

If the employee is sick for more than seven days and does not have any paid sick leave left, the employee can claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. For more information on workforce and labour regulations, please click here.

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When do employees qualify for paid sick leave for COVID-19?

If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 (confirmed by a medical doctor) or if they have symptoms and get booked off by a doctor, normal sick leave applies. The employee will be required to produce a medical certificate from their doctor confirming the employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or is too sick to work. For more information on workforce and labour regulations,

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What ports of entry are affected?

South Africa has 72 ports of entry – 53 of which are land ports of entry. Of these, 11 are airports and eight are sea ports. These were evaluated individually, and it was decided that: None of the 11 airports are going to be interfered with. These will run as normal, but with heightened activity and vigilance by port health authorities and immigration officials. Of

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What is the procedure for travellers in South Africa to present themselves to be tested? By when and how do travellers present themselves to be tested?

Government has stated that all travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing. Travellers who must present themselves for testing should phone the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) toll-free hotline (080 002 9999), or a nearby healthcare facility to receive advice on what to do and where to go for testing. Despite the

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What happens if a traveller is unable to leave the country due to cancelled flights?

For any queries regarding flights, cancellations, and refunds, the airline in question should be the first contact. The aviation industry is changing quickly as the situation unfolds, and airlines will have the most up-to-date, accurate information when it comes to their own policies. It depends on the airline, but in most cases, the passenger should be given a full refund if the airline has cancelled

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Will travellers from high-risk countries be allowed to transfer through South Africa’s international airports, if they are only in-transit out of the country and do not enter through immigration?

All entry, regardless of compliance with visa requirements, of foreign travellers with ordinary passports, travelling from or transiting through high-risk countries, is prohibited until further notice. In a case where some of the passengers from high-risk countries arrive in South Africa, connecting or transiting to other neighbouring countries, the airport authorities, port health, together with the immigration team will conduct a robust assessment and do

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Can foreign nationals renew their South African visas?

South Africa will renew expired visas – long or short – for nationals specifically due to COVID-19 reasons for up to July 2020 after which this will be evaluated. In the spirit of international solidarity, if South Africa is asked by another country to safeguard its citizens – in the same way, South African citizens were retained in China – South Africa will not refuse

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What are the visa restrictions?

South Africa believes that the only mechanism to deny access to high-risk travellers is by imposing visa requirements, even for those nationalities which have not traditionally required visas to visit South Africa. Further to requiring a visa, South Africa will also review the Advanced Passenger Process (APP) lists of passengers prior to the arrival of passengers by air and flag any potential cases. The flight

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What is the confirmed list of high-risk countries?

It is important to note that while France was not on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s list of high-risk countries, this was an oversight and it is certainly on the list that South Africa has included in its travel ban. The high-risk countries have been designated by the World Health Organization, not the South African Government. The Swiss Confederation (Switzerland) was also added to the list of

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What travel restrictions are in place in South Africa at the moment?

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on 15 March 2020 that the government would impose the following travel restrictions: A travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, the USA, the UK and China from 18 March 2020. Travellers from medium-risk countries – Hong Kong, Singapore and Portugal – will be required to undergo high-intensity screening upon

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