• Ivan Israelstam

Labour law noose tightens again

BY Ivan Israelstam, Chief Executive of Labour Law Management Consulting. He may be contacted on (011) 888-7944 or 0828522973 or on e-mail address: ivan@labourlawadvice.co.za.

Go to: www.labourlawadvice.co.za

The government’s unsatisfactory service delivery record threatens its prospects for the national elections to be held in 15 months’ time. Therefore, the publication of the frightening labour bill on employment equity quotas may be aimed by the government at appeasing COSATU in the hope of retaining its support at the polls. The positive aspect of the new bill is outweighed by provisions that will inflict severe damage on employers.

In recent years numerous labour law amendments have been effected, most of which tightened the noose on employers. These include:

  • Fixed-term employment contracts of lower income earners are illegal if the employer cannot justify them on grounds that the work itself is genuinely limited in duration. Employers therefore need to convert all unjustified fixed-term contracts to permanent contracts and give the employees the relevant benefits

  • Employers have to give to fixed-term employees some benefits enjoyed by their permanent colleagues

  • Fixed-term employees who are lower income earners and those employed via placement agencies are able to take employers to CCMA if they have a reasonable expectation of being offered permanent employment

  • Employers of lower income earners have the primary legal responsibility for the rights of people placed with them by temporary employment agencies and labour brokers

  • The con/arb process is being used more often

  • Bargaining councils may charge a levy to finance their dispute resolution services. Thus, employers could be making direct payments to enable employees to take them to conciliation and arbitration

  • Section 197 of the LRA protect employees involved in second generation outsourcing

  • The Minister of Employment and Labour has the power to dictate the representivity thresholds at which employers are required to give trade unions organisational rights

  • The Minister may dictate remuneration levels and other employment conditions in industries and sectors that are as yet not affected by sectoral determinations

  • Prosecution of non-compliant employers has been strengthened; and prison terms and penalties for breaches of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act have been increased as are fines for Employment Equity Act breaches

  • Employers are required to pay equal salaries to their employees doing the same or similar work in certain circumstances. Failure to comply with this requirement will constitute unfair discrimination

Due to the above amendments local business have stepped up their use of mechanisation and are moving their workplaces to other countries. Overseas businesses has been deterred from investing here in labour intensive projects.

On top of all this the new Employment Equity Bill is expected to be enacted this year. It will enable the Minister to dictate affirmative action quotas to employers that have more than 50 employees. This will further deter companies from increasing their workforces, and the cost of complying with the quota system will leave fewer resources available to operate the business. This will erode profits and further deter the hiring of new employees.

The ANC’s stated policy of creating ‘decent employment’ will be contaminated by fast accelerating ‘indecent unemployment’.

To attend our 27 May webinar on MANAGING CONFLICT IN THE WORKPLACE please contact Ronni on ronni@labourlawadvcie.co.za or 0845217492.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Lexinfo CC.

Posted: 22 March 2022


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