3 types of labour inspections

Our South African labour laws are extensive and rigid, leaving no room for negotiation. Many employers conduct their business with the sincere belief that they are adhering to the required labour regulations, although in reality this is often not the case. Failure to comply with these labour laws can result in significant financial repercussions, needlessly jeopardising your business.

The Department of Employment and Labour possesses the authority to enforce these labour regulations and carries out regular workplace inspections to ensure adherence thereto.  There are three categories of inspections, each focusing on ensuring compliance with a specific set of laws, namely:

  • The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which encompasses Sectoral Determinations and Main Collective Agreements;
  • The Employment Equity Act; and
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The three categories of labour inspections:

Employers should be diligent in distinguishing between these distinct types of inspections to ensure overall compliance. The three categories of labour inspections encompass the following aspects:
  • Inspection under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act:

    This inspection focuses on ensuring compliance with the minimum terms and conditions of employment that both the employer and employee can mutually agree upon, encompassing industry-specific legislation where applicable. The inspector will examine:

    • The Employment contracts (written particulars of employment);
    • Attendance records;
    • Remuneration details – pay slips/envelopes, minimum wage, overtime, paid leave, working hours, etc.;
    • Verification of UIF and COIDA registration along with proof of payments made; and
    • Comprehensive list of employee names and corresponding ID numbers.

In case of non-compliance, the inspector will issue a dated compliance order to the employer. Subsequently, this can lead to the imposition of monetary penalties or even imprisonment.

  • Inspection under the Employment Equity Act:

    This inspection’s focus is on the compliance of the Employment Equity Act, which strives to eradicate unjust discrimination in the workplace, while promoting equal opportunities and equitable treatment. Employers meeting specific criteria are known to be “designated employers,” with additional responsibilities. Employers must verify whether they classify as a “designated employer” to ensure conformity and compliance.

     Non-compliance for a “designated employer” may result in a fine of R1.5 million for the first offense or 10% of the employer’s annual turnover (whichever is greater), and/or up to 10 years of imprisonment.

  • Inspection under the Occupational Health and Safety Act:

    This inspection concentrates on compliance with health and safety regulations, aiming to establish a secure and healthy work environment. The inspector will scrutinize aspects like legislative posters, health and safety representatives and committees, relevant signage, personal protective equipment, and more.

If non-compliance is found, the inspector will provide the employer with a dated compliance order. Depending on the severity of the non-compliance, this could lead to temporary cessation of business activities or even penalties. Continuous non-compliance might result in penalties, imprisonment, and potential criminal prosecution.



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