It seems that load shedding is back, resulting in decreased productivity and financial losses for business, especially small businesses.
Although Eskom seems to have a planned schedule of load shedding notifications, changes to the stages of load shedding are sent just a few hours before the event, or even during the event, leaving the employer at a loss in terms of planning ahead.
There are some steps that can be taken to alleviate the impact that load shedding has on your business:
- Where you are aware of a scheduled load shedding period, ensure that you have planned ahead, and can allocate work for the three to four hours where you can – work that does not require an electrical supply, such as filing, team building exercises, customer contact, and meetings.
- Install an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system, which works as both a back-up battery for the computers and regulates the amount of power it receives. Install power surge plugs, and where viable, a generator.
- Protect your data. If the business is computer based, ensure that back-ups are done regularly, and ensure that your data is kept safe.
- Take out insurance on your server and data, so that if your server crashes or your data is lost due to the power interruption, you will be covered.
- Ensure that you do not contravene the labour law when it comes to load shedding. In terms of South African labour and common law, an employer has a duty to pay remuneration to an employee if the employee is available to work despite his inability to work due to load shedding. Should an employer wish to treat the load shedding period as a lunch break, he must remember that he has to pay employees for any lunch break in excess of 75 minutes (in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (“BCEA”)), unless the employee lives on the premises. Some industries have specific agreements in place (for example, the metal and engineering industries) relating to load shedding. Should the employer request that the employee returns to work after hours to make up for the time lost, the normal provisions relating to overtime provided for in the BCEA will apply. Employers and employees may, however, agree to changes in working hours or shift structures in.