Plumbing industry bodies IOPSA/PIRB hosted a webinar on Monday, 30 March to discuss the permits and certification required by artisans to work during the lockdown. It was presented by Lea Smith, president of the Plumbing industry Registration Board (PIRB) with a Q&A session addressed by a panel which included the Institute of Plumbing SA (IOPSA)’s Brendan Reynolds and Steve van Zyl. The Q&A will be covered in a second part to this article tomorrow.



Smith briefly explained that the purpose of the lockdown was to slow the number of cases of Covid-19 to a level which the country’s healthcare system could manage. In this regard, “it is imperative that we stand and work together in order to ‘flatten the curve’ of Covid-19 infections”.

This means all businesses are shut and all people have to remain at home except as provided and except for exempt ‘essential services’, which include plumbing and electrical work. To be able to undertake jobs on a daily basis, each services team on the road has to have a permit from the employing firm itself, as well as a copy of the government’s Biz Portal certificate that it qualifies as an essential service.

Smith noted that maintenance plumbing was exempt as an essential service, but not contract plumbing. The same would apply to electricians. “Essential services refer to services rendered in terms of section 213 of the Labour Relations Act of 1995. Categories of essential services that cover plumbing are:

  • Electricity, water, gas and fuel production supply and maintenance
  • Cleaning, sanitation, sewerage, waste and refuse removal.

It also includes support and transportation services relevant to those essential services.

The head of an institution (the firm of plumbers or electricians) will be responsible for determining the essential services to be performed and the staff required to do so. The head (owner or CEO of the firm) must issue a permit to staff going on site in the form available on IOPSA’s website, and must put on his industry registration body (such as PIRB and IOPSA) numbers (if he/she has one). Smith emphasised these identification numbers are not compulsory, but add to the weight of evidence and provide a third-party verification system if the team is pulled over at a roadblock. The permit contains a list of the people working on the job.

“The form needs to be stamped with the company’s official stamp (if it has one) and this is not stamped by IOPSA or PIRB. If the company does not have such a stamp then print across it the company details, CK number and logo and sign across it (in addition to the place where the form itself has to be signed).

“It is not a requirement, but we advise members to have as much evidence on them as possible,” says Smith.

In addition, to be designated an ‘essential service’ companies have to register on the government’s Biz portal (, a process which takes five minutes. To be able to do so, one’s details on the site (which is a CIPRO site) need to be up-to-date and you need to be actually legitimate and registered with CIPRO and have a CK registration number, and the business needs to be registered in a category now listed as an essential service.

“If you’re not registered or up-to-date you won’t get the certificate,” cautions Smith.

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