Labour legislation: back to the 4 basics

A vast amount of legislation regulates labour relation in South Africa with the added minimum wage as announced, to be implemented om 1 May 2018. The Department of Labour has made it know that they are planning to inspect as many businesses as possible for compliance with the national minimum wage. The inspector form the Department of Labour will also make sure that employers comply with all other relevant labour legislation, regulations and rules.

Make sure you comply with labour legislation and have the following 4 things in place:

Employment contracts

The employment contracts is the basis of the relationship between the employer and the employee. This states the terms and conditions as agreed upon by the employer and employee. Terms and conditions of verbal agreement cannot always be proven. Therefore, the written particulars of employment in form of a contract creates clarity and certainty between the employer and the employee. This also diminishes the risk of disputes arising about these terms and conditions. An employment contract is the most important document for the employer in managing labour relations.

Employers can also include additional clauses in the contract to proactively manage possible future disputes. This will save time and money. General proactive clauses can be placed in categories involving time periods (retirement age, short time, daily rest period and probation period), the employee’s content (additional deductions, subtraction of training cost when the employee resigns, alcohol testing, cameras in the workplace and searching of personal belongings) and other (confidential and restraint of trade).

Disciplinary code

Clear rules and guidelines in the workplace ensure that friction and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum. This, in turn promotes not only productivity but also a positive working environment. The disciplinary code serves as a guideline for employers of appropriate sanction for certain offences. These sanctions may be adjusted depending on the circumstances and merits of each case. This will also influence how progressive discipline should be applied. The disciplinary code should ensure that all employees are aware of the rules in the workplace, as well as the consequences should these rules be broken.

Policies and procedures

To have policies and procedures in place in the workplace is extremely important. A policy informs employees of the rule(s) in respect of a certain topic. The employer puts these rules in place to ensure the smooth and efficient running of business operations. Policies are not underwritten by labour legislation, but define the employer’s own rules. These rules must be reasonable. Typical policies include a code of conduct, smoking policy, sick leave, cell phone policy, sexual harassment policy, internet and e-mail policy, hygiene policy, etc. These policies are often used to proactively manage labour risk. The employer can amend policies when necessary. It is vital that employees are informed of these policies, as well as any changes made to the policies, preferably in writing.

A procedure is an established or official way of handling a situation. Procedures are put in place to inform the employees and employers alike, of necessary steps when a certain incident occurs. Typical procedures include a disciplinary code, appeal procedure and grievance procedure.

Registration for UIF and the Compensation Commissioner

All employers must be registered with the Compensation Commissioner for workmen’s compensation. This ensures that all injuries on duty are reported and employers and employees are compensated accordingly. Employers must also register at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). Employers must also ensure that all employees working more than 24 hours per month are registered. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that UIF contributions are deducted from employees remuneration. An inspector from the Department of Labour will always check this during an inspection.

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LWO Regsadviseur - LWO Legal Advisor

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