On 9 April 2020, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and the Prudential Authority, jointly issued a Directive in terms of Regulation 11B(4A)(e)(i) of the Regulations made in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002. The Directive applies to all financial institutions licensed in terms of a financial sector law rendering essential services as set out in paragraph B.3.1 of Annexure B to the Regulations, which includes banks, financial markets, insurers and pension fund administrators.
The said Directive is effective from 9 April 2002 and dictates the appropriate precautionary measures to be taken by financial institutions when performing essential financial services during the nationwide lockdown, which expires on midnight on 30 April 2020 and any extension thereof.
The precautionary measures to be implemented by financial institutions in terms of the Directive are extensive and (amongst others) include:
- directing that a head of financial institution must, where that head determines staff as essential as contemplated in Regulation 11B(2), endeavour to limit these members of staff to as small a number as possible and, as far as possible, enable remote working, including working from home to support essential services;
- a financial institution must take appropriate precautionary measures to reduce the risk of exposure, transmission and spread of the COVID-19, which include promoting minimum physical contact between staff required at the office (including replacing face-to-face contact with virtual communications where possible and implementing a spacing policy requiring distance of no less than one and a half meters between employees at workstations, and common areas such as cafeterias or break rooms and where possible, providing employees with sufficient personal protective supplies and materials);
- establishing protocols to, amongst others: (i) screen the temperatures of all persons entering and leaving the financial institution’s premises; (ii) ensuring staff with COVID-19 symptoms (including a mild cough or fever of 37.3 °C or more) are identified, tested and are required to stay at home; (iii) maintaining a register of the names and contact details of all the staff working on site and persons visiting on site, including those attending meetings, for a period of at least a month, to assist with contact tracing as contemplated in the Regulations; (iv) procedures for staff who are sick at work, and procedures for keeping sick staff members separate from others until such staff member is able to leave for home; and
- necessitating financial institutions to develop and implement an infectious disease preparedness and response plan that can help guide protective actions against COVID-19, which must include plans and policies aimed at compliance with the Directive.
The Directive became effective on 9 April 2020 and remains effective during the lockdown period.
The compulsory measures introduced by the Directive are extensive and financial institutions are urged to urgently consider and implement measures to comply with the Directive. A copy of the Directive can be accessed here