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MBABANE – As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the country, employers have been given the green light to start applying for the retrenchment of employees.

When the pandemic first hit the country in March 2020, employers were discouraged from retrenching their staff, but only allowed to apply for layoffs, which would last for a period not longer than two months. Over 18 000 employees had already been on layoff towards the end of 2020. However, last Saturday, the Labour Commissioner’s Office issued a notice stating that employers could now submit applications for Retrenchment Notices, Applications for Layoffs and Labour Compliance Certificates. According to the Labour Commissioner, Mthunzi Shabangu, many companies had been hard hit by the effects of the pandemic and could not function and as a result, wanted to retrench some members of their staff.


However, Shabangu encouraged employers to utilise the business rescue measures which had been introduced by government through the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade.
These include the E45 million fund, which government has launched, where businesspeople can apply for a loan. The fund is managed by EswatiniBank. Shabangu said as part of the initial guidelines, which they had published at the early stages of the emergence of COVID-19 in April last year, from the employment and labour sector through Legal Notice No.22 of 2020, they were meant to mitigate against immediate permanent job losses.

He said retrenchment was the permanent cessation of employment. “It is for that reason that during the subsistence of those guidelines from March 27 up to November 18, 2020, retrenchments due to business distress caused by COVID-19 were prohibited in the country,” he explained. He said instead, employers were encouraged to rather apply for unpaid layoffs of their employees. The labour commissioner said, however, with the new regulations which started operating on November 19, 2020, they had since relaxed the initial restrictions by allowing retrenchments as a result of business distress caused by the effects of COVID-19.


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: Salary review/job losses
What should PSAs choose, job losses or salary review?