There is limited time available for restaurants and other catering establishments, as well as hotels, guest houses and other forms of accommodation to ensure that they get their contracts of employment in order.
The Sectoral Determination for the Hospitality Sector comes into effect on 1 July 2007. So why is it necessary to get contracts of employment in order? The reason is that, in addition to new minimum wages, the new Determination also requires that certain conditions of employment have to be specifically agreed before they can be enforced.
Establishments in the hospitality sector are typically open after hours and on weekends. The Determination requires that, unless agreed otherwise, an employee’s rest period must fall on a Sunday. Overtime may only be worked if it is agreed. An employee must also agree to work night work, which is defined as work performed after 18h00 and before 06h00 the next day. While agreement is not necessarily required to be in writing in these instances, the Determination prescribes that the employers must at least provide the employee with written particulars of employment that, amongst others, deal with these aspects. Some conditions, however, have to be agreed in writing before they may be enforced. These are commission work, a compressed working week and the averaging of hours. Employers might as well make use of the opportunity to negotiate conditions of employment that deal with all these aspects, as well as other aspects of employment.
When the Determination comes into effect on 1 July, it will override all existing conditions, written or verbal, that are in conflict with it. Employers that want to introduce new conditions of employment, such as a compressed working week or a provision for short-time, cannot do so unilaterally. These will have to be negotiated and agreed with the employees or their trade unions. It could be a tough task for those employers that already meet the minimum wage requirements. However, for those employers that have to increase their wages to meet the new minimum requirements, the period between now and 1 July 2007 presents a particularly good opportunity to negotiate flexible working conditions. In order to avoid later disagreements it would be advisable to negotiate new written contracts of employment with employees.
The Determination applies to all establishments in the Hospitality Sector that are not covered by a Bargaining Council agreement.
A draft contract of employment for the Hospitality Sector is available to Labourwise subscribers at www.labourwise.co.za