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Joint Communication 7 of 2020 – Amended COVID-19 precautionary measures for intermediaries

The Joint Directive issued by the Authorities on 9 April 2020 under Alert Level 5 was withdrawn and replaced with Joint Communication 7, which sets out how financial institutions must comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Directives, issued by the Minister of Employment and Labour, in terms of the Regulations regarding the precautionary measure in workplaces.

Greater responsibility is now placed on institutions to ensure that the working environment is safe. Institutions should also exercise great care to protect their customers, employees and members of the public that they come in contact with. The measures set out in this Communication are minimum precautions that should be taken. Institutions must continue to assess their own risks and circumstances and, where necessary, implement stricter requirements.

Where employees, including nurses of financial institutions or payment institutions are required to travel between provinces, metropolitan areas and districts, the financial institution must ensure that that employee or nurse is in possession of a permit issued in accordance with Regulation 33(4)(a) of the Regulations.

Guidance to financial institutions

1. Interactions between financial institutions and financial customers, including between advisors and intermediaries rendering the financial services, must continue to be via remote means wherever possible.
2. Where face to face meetings or physical interaction with customers are unavoidable, in order to protect both the employees of the financial institution as well as financial customers, these meetings should be held at premises where appropriate health measures and social distancing can be implemented, such as –
a) suitably equipped offices of the financial institution;
b) the place of work of the customer, or
c) other premises where appropriate health measures can be implemented and monitored.
3. A financial institution should not hold meetings at the homes of clients or visit financial customers at home for purposes of providing financial services to them.
4. Where exceptional circumstances require that a meeting takes place at the home of a customer, the following protocols must be followed:
a) An employee of a financial institution should only visit a customer’s home after confirming an appointment with the customer and should not arrive at a customer’s home without prior notice.
b) Both the customer and the employee are required to complete a risk questionnaire prior to the visit to establish if either of them is vulnerable, or whether the financial customer resides with a vulnerable person, or if either of them is at risk of infecting others. Only if both are not vulnerable or at risk of infecting others may the appointment at the customer’s home continue. If the appointment occurs more than one day after the telephonic questionnaire is completed, the financial institution should make a follow-up confirmation on the day of the appointment to ensure that the circumstances have not changed.
c) The employee should perform a non-contact temperature screen on him or herself in the presence of the customer as well as on the customer.
d) The employee should carry sanitiser and a spare mask which should be offered to the customer on arrival if the customer does not have a mask. The consultation should not continue unless the customer has sanitised his or her hands and is wearing a face mask. The customer should be informed in advance of this requirement.
e) Social distancing should be practiced as far as possible whilst completing forms, limiting the time close to the customer as far as possible.

Click here to download the Communication which also includes guidance to payment institutions as well as requirements for travelling nurses.

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