Industrial Relations

Industrial Relations

industrial relationsThe Labour Relations Act was finally promulgated on the 1st of January 2015. The amendments to the Act are extensive and while many of them serve mainly to clarify areas that were not clear in the original Act or to close some loopholes, some of the changes are far reaching. The purpose of the legislation was to:

  • To amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995, so as to facilitate the granting of organisational rights to trade unions that are sufficiently representative;
  • To strengthen the status of picketing rules and agreements;
  • To amend the operation, functions and composition of the essential services committee and to provide for minimum service determinations;
  • To provide for the Labour Court to order that a suitable person be appointed to administer a trade union or employer’ organisation;
  • To enable judges of the Labour Court to serve as a judge on the Labour Appeal Court; to further regulate enquiries by arbitrators; to provide greater protection for workers placed in temporary employment services;
  • To regulate the employment of fixed term contracts and part-time employees earning below the earnings threshold determined by the Minister; to further specify the liability for employer’s obligations;

It is the greater protection for workers in temporary, fixed term or part time employment that the Act provides that requires our attention. The Act gives three months from promulgation, i.e. 1 April 2015 for letters of appointment and conditions of employment for these groups of employees to be brought in line with the legislation. As organisations, we need to consider those employees who are not permanent and ensure that their employment conditions and contracts are in line with the Act. Interestingly the provisions of the Act dealing with temporary, fixed term and part time employees do not cover employees who earn above the threshold. The threshold is currently R205 433-30 per annum (gross salary) or R17 119-44 per month.

One of the provisions is that the letter of appointment for a fixed term contract should clearly state why the person is being offered a contract rather than permanent employment. The act states:

  1. Without limiting the generality of subsection (3), the conclusion of a fixed term contract will be justified if the employee –
    1. Is replacing another employee who is temporarily absent from work;
    2. Is employed on account of a temporary increase in the volume of work which is not expected to endure beyond 12 months;
    3. Is a student or recent graduate who is employed for the purpose of being trained or gaining work experience in order to enter a job or profession;
    4. Is employed to work exclusively on a specific project that has a limited or defined duration;
    5. Is a non-citizen who has been granted a work permit for a defined period;
    6. Is employed to perform seasonal work;
    7. Is employed for the purpose of an official public works scheme or similar public job creation scheme;
    8. Is employed in a position which is funded by an external source for a limited period; or
    9. Has reached the normal or agreed retirement age applicable in the employer’s business.

If you are using a labour broker for any of your staff, please check if they are complying with legislation and most importantly if they are registered with the Department of Labour and SARS as a labour broker. The legislation gives any employee working through a temporary employment service the right to refer a dispute citing either the labour broker or the client or both. If they are not complying, it could become your problem.

Please contact our offices for assistance on any of the following:
  • Contingency plans for work stoppages
  • Labour employee relations strategy
  • Application of disciplinary and counselling Processes
  • Progress to Company Vision for the future Workplace
  • Training on labour relations
  • Negotiation of contracts
  • Counsel supervisors
  • Assistance with CCMA matters