The Justice Minister has once again exempted most organizations from having to compile a PAIA manual. The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has decided to exempt certain private bodies “from compiling the Manual contemplated in section 51(1) of PAIA…”. However, the deadline has been extended for a shorter period than usual – for only six months, effective from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021. The notice has been gazetted and this means that the exemption ends on 30 June 2021. After that, it might be extended for an additional period.

Why is the exemption period only for six months?

We do not know for sure but it may be to align with the POPIA commencement date, and to transition PAIA from being administered by the SAHRC to the Information Regulator.

How to determine whether you are exempt

• If you are a private company in terms of the Companies Act and you are NOT in any of the industries or sectors listed in the “Industry or sector” column below, you don't need to compile a manual.

• If you are a private company in any of the industries or sectors listed in the “Industry or sector” column below AND you have 50 or more employees, you need to compile a manual.

• If you a private company are in any of the industries or sectors listed in the “Industry or sector” column AND your ANNUAL TURNOVER is equal to or more than the amount in your respective industries “Threshold Turnover” column, you need to compile a manual.

If none of the above applies, you do not need to compile a manual.

The notice has not increased the turnover threshold for the industries as the previous notice had. The industries that are quoted below are as per the notice in the gazette. The list is not accurate so you might struggle to determine which industry you fall into. There is, unfortunately, no other guidance. You'll just have to pick the one that is closest to your industry.

Agriculture - R6 million

Mining and Quarrying - R22,5 million

Manufacturing - R30 million

Electricity, Gas and Water - R30 million

Construction - R15 million

Retail and Motor Trade and Repair Services - R45 million

Wholesale Trade, Commercial Agents and Allied Services - R75 million

Catering, Accommodation and other Trade - R15 million

Transport Storage and Communications - R30 million

Finance and Business Services - R30 million

Community, Special and Personal Services - R15 million

Remember that you only need a manual if you are in one of the industries or sectors in the table above. Many people ask us what is the finance and business services sector? See the explanation of the South African Embassy in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or Wesgro.

Is there still a PAIA manual deadline?

The threshold means that some big organizations must submit a PAIA manual. This also means that you should not rush into making a shabby PAIA manual just to meet the deadline. Those who were previously exempt, will probably remain exempt and do not need a PAIA manual by law. Some organizations have never been exempt and they have always needed a PAIA manual.

Do you still need a PAIA manual?

• If you are a small organization, you don't.

• If you are a large organization, you still do. We can draft a PAIA manual for you.

• If you are in between, you need to check if your company fits into a listed sector or industry, and check if you have 50 or more employees, OR if your turnover is above the new threshold.