As from 1 July 2017, the new minimum wage rates for the hospitality industry sector are increased.
Arbitrators will look at the following factors when deciding whether or not a dismissal for ill health was fair.
Much has been said of “the right to remain silent”. It may be raised by a defendant in criminal law, but does it mean anything in the employment relationship?
The issue of ‘plea bargaining’ arises where there are several perpetrators involved in a disciplinary transgression. The employer needs one or more co-perpetrators to give evidence at the disciplinary hearing. Can one agree to a lesser sanction in return for his testimony against the alleged accomplices?
Wilful and persistent refusal to carry out an instruction often results in summary dismissal. It becomes trickier if the employee has a good reason not to follow the instruction. So, what is a good reason to refuse to work?
May employees on probation be dismissed for lesser forms of misconduct?
Earning extra money outside of working hours (also referred to as ‘moonlighting’) may sound like a good idea. But what if the employer objects?
Where employees don’t do what is expected of them, the employer is often faced with a practical dilemma: Do I treat this as misconduct or incapacity?
How high may the employer set the bar when it comes to discipline in the workplace– may a zero tolerance approach be implemented?
The assumption is often made that people who do volunteer work are not employees. But are volunteers protected by labour legislation?
Social media has become a powerful communication tool, but using it can have far-reaching consequences. Can employees be dismissed for expressing their personal opinions outside the workplace and outside of working hours?
Drafting a proper disciplinary notice can be frustrating. Many employers would simply pass the responsibility to external advisors. Yet, provided a few fundamentals are taken care of, there is no reason why managers could not do it themselves and leave only the most complicated cases for external parties to assist with.
As a rule employers should give newly-appointed employees some time to settle in before deciding on their suitability for the job. But would it be fair to expect an employee appointed to a high level job to ‘hit the ground running’?
Time spent travelling between clients and the workplace during the working day would normally be regarded as working time. But what about time spent travelling to work, or time spent at the workplace before commencing with normal daily tasks?
Until recently, our labour legislation has made no reference to part-time employment. What has gone almost unnoticed is the specific introduction of the protection of employees that are employed on a part-time basis in contrast to fixed term contracting that has received a lot of publicity recently.
There is nothing in our law that prevents an employer from adopting a workplace policy that requires employees to submit to tests or allow themselves and their belongings to be searched.
The workplace is not a democracy. One of the implied terms of the contract of employment is that of subordination – the employee has to submit to the authority of the employer provided this is exercised lawfully and reasonably.
How will an organisation’s upcoming skills development submission impact on its future BBBEE ratings and what steps can be taken to maximise their scores in this element?
Does a job applicant need to disclose her pregnancy status to an employer? May an employer take disciplinary action against an employee who, at the time of appointment, failed to disclose her pregnancy? Or lied about it? May an employee who is on maternity leave be dismissed for genuine reasons relating to performance, disciplinary action or redundancy?
Is it always necessary to go through onerous disciplinary or incapacity procedures before terminating an employee’s service? The short answer is no. Unfair dismissal protection only applies when an employee is dismissed.
Imagine a situation where an employer does not have job vacancy, but agrees to accommodate a person as a favour. The person is employed with the clear understanding that if things do not work out, the contract may be terminated without the employee having recourse to the remedies afforded by the Labour Relations Act. Can this be done?
Does it make any difference if the employer’s disciplinary procedure makes specific provision for management’s power to overrule a chairperson’s decision? Or if it states that the chairperson’s findings are just recommendations and not final decisions?
Do medical certificates issued by traditional healers have to be accepted by employers? While there does not appear to be an obligation to do so at present, indications are that it will be soon become a reality.
Can lapsed warnings be taken into account when an employee faces disciplinary action?
The Employment Equity Amendment Act of 2013 has finally come into effect on 1 August 2014. Not only large employers are effected and some provisions apply to all employers, irrespective of their size. The Department Labour is likely to be very active in assessing employers’ compliance in the months to come.
The earnings threshold will increase to R 205 433.30 per year with effect from 1 July 2014. This has favourable implications for employees that previously earned in excess of the threshold, but will fall under the threshold as from 1 July 2014.
How does an employee’s absence due to illness affect overtime pay?
Dealing with alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace is not easy. At the one extreme you might have a driver who drinks heavily on a particular occasion while on duty, and then drives and crashes a company vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. At the other extreme, you might have a clerk who occasionally smells of alcohol at the workplace, but approaches the employer of his own free will for assistance with alcohol dependency. While these situations clearly require different approaches, there could be a number of situations in between that each requires a slightly different approach.
When employers want to terminate a fixed-term contract before the expiry date, it would seem to make sense that this could be done as long as they pay the employee for the balance of the term. However, a recent Labour Court case involving the Office of the Presidency has highlighted the fact that premature termination of employment may amount to an unfair dismissal.
With effect from 1 January 2014 employers can take advantage of the Employment Tax Incentive (often referred to as the “youth wage subsidy”). It appears to be a very simple process, essentially administered by SARS.
The date by which employers have to submit their Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) and the Annual Training Report (ATR) to their SETA’s is fast approaching. It has been brought forward to 30 April 2014 (having previously been 30 June of each year).
Question: Can annual leave be forfeited?
What if a fellow employee does something that causes the employer harm – is there an obligation on his/her collegues to report this to the employer?
Just before she has to attend a disciplinary hearing, your employee submits a medical certificate stating that she is unable to attend the hearing because of some undisclosed illness. What should you do?
In the previous article we discussed recent developments is case law relating to disputes about ‘benefits’. We pointed out that such disputes that would previously have been referred to the Labour Court because it related to remuneration, may now be referred to the CCMA on the basis that the employer has exercised its discretion unfairly. But there is another potential obstacle that needs to be considered – this is the argument that the CCMA does not have the jurisdiction to arbitrate on so-called ‘disputes of interest’.
Employers have been avoiding liability for unfair labour practice claims relating to “benefits” for some time. It has been argued, often successfully, that the CCMA lacks jurisdiction where a dispute about benefits relates to remuneration. This and other barriers have since been eroded significantly.
Employees are not necessarily the only ones to blame for the abuse of sick leave in South African workplaces. It is a known fact that some doctors earn an easy fee by issuing medical certificates without examining the employee. Most employers assume that they simply have to accept medical certificates at face value.
It sometimes makes sense for companies to allow certain employees to continue working after the agreed or normal retirement age. The question is this: How does one go about terminating employment during that period?
May an employee withdraw a notice of termination and must the employer accept the withdrawal? And is there a distinction between desertion and resignation without proper notice?
A study showed that 80% of employees were dissatisfied with the performance appraisal system. Many managers also find it an extremely stressful process, so why not just do away with performance appraisals?
Question: Does an employee have a right to an annual bonus?
It is a misconception that companies can only be reimbursed for training provided by external SETA-registered institutions. Companies can in fact also be reimbursed for structured internal, day to day training as well as Learnerships offered.
The Bill seeks to rectify anomalies and clarify uncertainties that have arisen out from the interpretation of the EEA in the past decade. We will also see the expansion of the powers of the Labour Inspectorate and the jurisdiction of the CCMA.
Recent newspaper reports imply that the Labour Appeal Court has now decided that employers have to accept ‘sick’ certificates from sangomas. This is not the case.
The DTI recently published a number of proposed amendments to the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act for comment, which if implemented will have a significant impact on organisations, making it more onerous to retain or improve their ratings.
Question: Is an employee on a fixed term contract only entitled to proportionate sick leave?
In a society with diverse religious beliefs employers are challenged not only to be tolerant, but also to accommodate that diversity in the workplace. To what extent must religious beliefs and practices of employees be accommodated?
Generally an employee may not be dismissed for refusing to sign a contract of employment. But are there circumstances where the employer can take stronger action short of dismissal?
Question: If an employee is absent due to illness for a brief period (no more than 2 days), may the employer insist on a medical certificate?
Finally we have clarity about the nature of the forthcoming amendments to the LRA and BCEA.
Question: May an employer change a policy without the agreement of employees?
When a trade union approaches an employer with the news that its employees have joined the union, one can understand that some employers might experience a sense of betrayal. But is it as bad as it seems?
May an employer pay its employees a flat rate (e.g. including pay for overtime worked, work on Sundays and public holidays, sick leave, family responsibility leave)?
Our law does not provide for a national or general age at which employees have to, or may retire. Contracts of employment may of course contain an agreed retirement age, …
Just as we think that the law pertaining to fixed term contracts has settled, something changes. While the latest development regarding the expectation of renewal of a fixed term contract may be welcomed by employers, there is no reason to celebrate.
Does an employee have a right to an annual increase?
Should an employer try to accommodate an employee’s request for leave of absence to be trained as a traditional healer, where the period of absence may be as long as one month or longer? Or to grant leave in excess of the family responsibility leave available to an employee so that she can fulfil her obligation to arrange for a family member’s funeral?
Question: May employees be forced to work overtime? What if they refuse?
Social networks, such as Facebook, serve as a useful vehicle for sharing one’s personal views. It can also have unexpected and unfortunate ramifications. One example is when an employee makes use of a social network to air his views about his or her employer.
The recently proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act (‘EEA’) created much discussion and concern. The concern arose from both the substance of some of the proposals and the poor manner in which they were drafted. For now it would appear that the proposed changes (as well as proposed changes to the LRA and the BCEA) will not be passed in law in their current form. We are likely to see, at some point in the not too distant future, better considered and drafted proposals for change.
There is a fair chance that a job seeker has left the employment of the former employer on bad terms. Whatever the circumstances, the applicant is faced with the difficulty that volunteering such information could harm the prospects of getting a new job. The job seeker may get away by being scant on detail in the CV. Being evasive during the job interview is likely to be more problematic. But how far does the duty to disclose go?
Employers engage temporary employment services (‘TES’ or ‘labour brokers’) for various reasons, one being the relative ease with which under-performing or misbehaving placements can be replaced. Unless there is a …
While the proposed amendments to labour legislation have attracted significant media attention, many refinements can still be introduced before the amendments reach the statute book. Even so, employers should be …
Complying with the Employment Equity Act (EEA) is not merely a mechanical process. There are indeed some procedural requirements, but in assessing compliance consideration must be given to whether ‘sufficient progress’ has been made with the …
When an employee is imprisoned for having committed a crime, there could be more than one reason why the employer might want to terminate employment. The employer might feel that …
When employees send e-mails, they don’t always anticipate where an e-mail might eventually end up. What about their right to privacy?
In Shoprite Checkers (Pty) Ltd v CCMA & Others the LAC held essentially that theft should be treated like all other forms of misconduct and that mitigating factors must also be taken into account.
One of the most significant amendments to the Labour Relations Act that became effective on 1 August 2002, relates to the transfer of business as a going concern. In many respects the law is clarified. But here are some sticky questions.
A comprehensive discussion of Sectoral Determination 9: Wholesale and Retail with practical examples can be found on www.labourwise.co.za Wholesale and Retail Sector This employment contract is based on Sectoral Determination …
Retrenching employees has been regarded as a relatively straight-forward process. However, recent judgements have shown that the requirement of fairness stretches beyond the text of legislation.
When an employee is absent for several days without communicating with the employer, the incorrect assumption is often made that the employee has deserted and has therefore dismissed himself.
Managing a situation involving an ‘invisible’ illness, e.g. depression, can be challenging, as the employer in Marsland v New Way Motor & Diesel discovered.
Disciplinary charges can inevitably cause tension between employer and employee. The employee nevertheless has a duty to show respect for as long as the employment relationship continues.
Not everyone applying for a new job has left the previous employer on good terms. How many details of the applicant’s employment history should be disclosed to the prospective employer?
What does one do with whistleblowers who refuse to testify in a disciplinary hearing because they fear intimidation?
The sensitive issue of the use of labour broking services has once again been raised after a recent finding of the High Court of Namibia. What are the implications for employers in South Africa?
While it is generally recognised that the decision not to promote is the employer’s prerogative, employers often don’t realise that the failure to promote may amount to an unfair labour practice.
It is often assumed that a contract of employment has to be in writing to be valid. What about offers of employment via SMS?
Can an employer deduct monies from an employee’s salary if the employee fails to give proper notice of resignation? Does verbal resignation suffice or should it be in writing? More questions answered.
It often happens that an employee who has been appointed on a fixed-term contract is allowed to continue working beyond the expiry date. What is the employee’s status after that …
The unauthorised personal use of company assets by employees is a growing and ongoing problem, and the greatest area of concern is usually the abuse of company telephones. How can this be contained?
Can disciplinary action be taken against staff that threaten or assault fellow employees outside the workplace?
In terms of our common law, there is a price that the employer has to pay for being able to issue instructions and exercise control over its employees while the latter are going about their duties.
Where individuals within a group of employees have committed misconduct, members of the group may refuse to give information to assist in identifying the culprits. What action can be taken?
The key difference between misconduct and incapacity lies in the fact that the former involves intentionally or negligently breaking the work place rules.
Now that the country is facing a national crisis, we revisit the question about the entitlement of employees to full pay if their working hours have been reduced as a result of power outages.
An employee’s right to maternity leave could pose operational problems for an employer, particularly for a small business. But how far can the employer go to protect its business interests.
Can an employer discipline an employee for failing or refusing to disclose information about the illegal activities of a colleague?
A black employee falsely accuses a white employee of racism and gets fairly dismissed.
Our Constitution protects pregnant employees against unfair discrimination. But can an employer and employee enter into an agreement that employment will be terminated if the employee fall pregnant?
There is limited time available for employers in the hospitality trade to ensure that they get their contracts of employment in order.
Many employers believe that someone who has been appointed on a fixed-term (or temporary) contract has to be appointed permanently after a certain number of renewals. This is not neccessarily so.
Dismissing an employee for absenteeism can be problematic when it appears that the actual reason for the absence was a chronic medical condition like HIV.
Retrenching employees is no simple matter. A recent Labour Court case has indicated that in the case of large-scale retrenchments, there is even a greater burden on employers than previously thought.
Religious freedom is a basic constitutional right. However, when an employee insists on exercising that right in the workplace it might become a sensitive and controversial matter.
How does an employer introduce changes that are not to the employees’ advantage without damaging the employment relationship or facing legal challenges.
If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the next Monday is a public holiday in terms of the Public Holidays Act. What are the consequences for businesses whose employees routinely work on Sundays?
Employers are encouraged by the LRA to accommodate employees with medical problems that affect their ability to perform at work.Can an employer demote an employee with a disability?
The remark “…’n Boer maak ‘n plan, but an Indian is born with a plan”, might evoke a chuckle, annoyance or even anger, but seldom indifference. It can also cost you your job.
An imprisoned employee is unable to fulfil his or her contractual obligations in terms of the employment contract. But is this a sound basis for dismissing the employee?
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