By Natashia Barnabas, Industrial Relations Manager at Workforce Staffing
Load shedding is incredibly disruptive to businesses, resulting in excessive downtime unless businesses have backup generators, inverters, an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) or a solar energy solution. This affects productivity, causes numerous other problems, and can make staffing difficult. Minimising the impact of load shedding on businesses and employees from a staffing perspective requires high levels of flexibility, which is where a Temporary Employment Services (TES) partner is perfectly positioned to assist.
The load shedding problem
Many businesses are forced to close their doors when load shedding occurs, causing a drop in sales, reduced turnover and other expenses. It also causes disruptions to supply chains from the reduced output of goods manufactured. This causes massive backlogs to businesses nationwide. Electronics can be damaged by power surges when the electricity supply is restored, and the risk of burglary and theft increases because remote controlled gates and alarm systems are often inoperable when there is no power.
These are just a few issues affecting businesses, but it also has a negative impact on employees, who lose income when they are unable to work either because of load shedding or because of supply issues. Employees become demotivated when they are laid off or lose out on work hours which they cannot get back, especially during this time of economic crisis where they are already struggling to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
For employees working remotely, even if they have a form of backup power, internet connectivity often fails and cell phone networks experience outages, affecting mobile data. Employees may miss important meetings or deadlines due to being unable to complete tasks on time. In addition, staff may need to redo work owing to lost data and are generally forced to take longer to complete their work.
Flexibility is the key
Companies who expect staff to come to work during power outages must be aware of the National Minimum Wage Act as well as other applicable employment legislation. Employers can seek detailed advice from a reputable TES provider who has labour experts on their team, labour law attorneys or labour consultants on this subject. Ideally, Employers should consult with relevant trade unions, and if there are none, then with the staff directly, about the forthcoming power outages and discuss the alternatives, or a plan to work around this. Structured arrangements should be developed for dealing with short time and with making up lost hours (if possible) at a later stage when electricity is available.
It is important for employers to structure business operating hours around the load shedding schedule as far as possible. This is challenging, however, given that it is frequently changing. A TES provider can assist businesses with flexible solutions so staff can be available on demand when needed. They can also assist with putting together a business model that meets regulatory and trade union requirements and helps to deal with short time effectively, while maintaining a positive workforce.
How to handle load shedding
There are several ways that businesses can mitigate the impact of load shedding on daily operations. Keep up to date with load shedding schedules so that days can be effectively planned to maximise productivity when power is available. Considering alternative energy solutions may also be beneficial, as the advantages of being able to function during load shedding can easily outweigh the costs. It is also important to back up your data to ensure that data loss issues do not crop up because of sudden power outages.
When it comes to dealing with employment challenges, the flexibility offered by a TES partner can prove invaluable, as can their expertise at dealing with trade unions and legislative requirements. A TES provider can make staffing for load shedding simpler and more cost effective and can help employees themselves ensure that they receive an income that is as close to normal and as continuous as possible.