DIRECTOR’S ROLE AMIDST THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC

The director’s role has without a doubt become more onerous amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Companies Act makes provision for operating in a virtual world, which includes, inter alia:

  • A signature or an initial on a document may be made by or on behalf of a person by the use of an electronic signature or an advanced electronic signature.
  • Proxy forms, annual financial statements, prospectuses and annual reports may be lawfully created, signed, retained and sent electronically
  • Meetings of shareholders and directors respectively may be conducted entirely by electronic communication
  • The definition of “present at a meeting” includes a “virtual presence” or representation by electronic proxy
Cecil Kilpin | CA(SA) - Accounting & Auditing Specialists >> May 2020 Newsletter

Directors and officers are required to be cognisant of corporate legislation pertaining to their office, and have a duty to ensure that the company complies with all other applicable laws, industry or sector specific legislation. Directors are required to ensure that managers and employees are aware of the legislation, and that all within the company are committed to act honestly, with integrity, and a high level of competence and knowledge. Adherence to nonbinding rules, codes and standards of good corporate governance is considered to be key to the effective management and control of a company.

If you are unclear as to your role as a Director as regards the Coronavirus, do not hesitate to contact us for professional advice in this regard.


COVID-19 – LEVEL 3 WORKPLACE REGULATIONS

All persons who are able to work from home must do so. However, persons will be permitted to travel to and from work and for work purposes under Alert Level 3, subject to:

(a) strict compliance with health protocols and social distancing measures;
(b) the return to work being phased-in in order to put in place measures to make the workplace COVID-19 ready;

Cecil Kilpin | CA(SA) - Accounting & Auditing Specialists >> May 2020 Newsletter

In terms of the regulations, employers who will be reopening their businesses in terms of Alert Level 3 will be required to do the following:

  • appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer
  • undertake a risk assessment of the workplace
  • and develop a plan for the return to work
  • This must be done before re-opening their businesses – in consultation with representative trade unions and health and safety committees

Key changes are:

  • The obligations of employers to employees who have comorbidities, or are over 60 years of age, have been clarified because of medical evidence that they are more vulnerable to COVID19 complications or death
  • Workers who have had close contact involving a high risk of transmission with a worker – or workers – diagnosed with COVID-19 must be placed on 14 days quarantine with paid sick leave.  Department of Health guidelines set out the procedure for assessing the risk of transmission
  • The requirements that all persons must wear masks in the workplace and that each employee must be given, free of charge, at least two masks are retained.  The requirement to wash masks at work has been removed after feedback from trade unions
  • Employees have a right to refuse to work if they have a reasonable belief that the necessary precautions have not been put in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Where such disputes arise, employers should seek to resolve these as quickly as possible.  If the dispute leads to a dismissal or other unfair labour practice, these cases may be referred to the CCMA (Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.)
  • Employers may not deduct the cost of Covid-19 precautions from employees’ wages or require them to pay for these

These draft amendments to existing directives, will be finalised and published, upon approval.


COVID-19 TAX RELIEF – WHO QUALIFIES

The past two months of lockdown have been difficult for the tourism sector. Many businesses in the sector fighting for survival and projections showed that almost 600 000 jobs were at risk if the sector doesn’t come into operation by September 2020. This reality led to both government and private sector working together to be both innovative and putting protocol guidelines to get the sector back into operation.

Cecil Kilpin | CA(SA) - Accounting & Auditing Specialists >> May 2020 Newsletter

TOURISM SERVICES UNDER LEVEL 3

The following areas have been opened up under Level 3:

  1. Restaurants for delivery or collection of food. Restaurants with liquor licences are allowed to sell alcohol only for takeout and delivery.
  2. Professional services – e.g. tourist guides, tour operators, travel agents, tourism information officers are allowed to come back to operations
  3. Professional Services including training of nature guides and other related services that are able to ensure safe distance
  4. Public and private game farms have been opened for self-drive excursions
  5. Hiking to be done in compliance with excising guidelines and not in groups
  6. Accommodation activities are allowed except for leisure and establishments will no longer require a letter from Minister of Tourism to operate. They are required to ensure that they accommodate those in the permitted services and keep records for inspections by the department
  7. Hunting activities are also allowed


The following economic activities will remain prohibited under level three:

  • Conferences, events, entertainment activities (such as Festivals) are still not permitted
  • Casinos not permitted
  • Leisure travel not permitted


If your business is tourism related, why not consult us to assist in developing business plans that could assist your business evolve under our “New Normal”.


COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 TOURISM SECTOR MEASURES

To qualify for the COVID-19 Tax Relief for PAYE, employers, must:

  • Be either an:
    • Individual; 
    • Partnership;
    • Trust; or
    • Company/ Close Corporation/ Shareblock/ Co-operative that conducts trade
Cecil Kilpin | CA(SA) - Accounting & Auditing Specialists >> May 2020 Newsletter

  • Have a gross income of R100 million or less during the year of assessment ending on or after 1 April 2020, but before 1 April 2021; AND
    • That gross income must not include more than 20% in aggregate of interest, local & foreign dividends, royalties, rental form letting of fixed property and any remuneration received from an employer;
      • If the rental of fixed property is the primary trading activity and the rental income is substantially the whole of the gross income (at least 90%), disregard this exclusion test; and
      • For purposes of a partnership, use the aggregate partner’s gross income from the partnership; or
  • Is a qualifying micro business who meet the requirements set out in the Sixth Schedule
  • Be fully tax compliant, meaning:
    • Is registered for all required taxes;
    • Have no outstanding returns for any taxes registered for;
    • Have no outstanding debt for any taxes registered for;
    • Be registered for PAYE as at 25 March 2020.

Sincerely,

Cecil Kilpin | CA(SA) - Accounting & Auditing Specialists >>Newsletter Greeting