Labour Law

The dawn of 2013 brings a number of legislative changes that are looming on the
horizon. This is according to Rob Cooper, Director of Legislation Updates and
Proposed legislation at Softline VIP.

The Constitutional Court recently handed down judgement in a case concerning the proper meaning of a provision of the Labour Relations Act whether a notice needs to be given beforehand by every employee who intends to strike.

There are a number of challenges to the amendment bills before Parliament. Top of the list is that there is sufficient research to indicate that some of these amendments will lead to job losses. This could leave a particularly negative impact on small and growing businesses.

Stakeholders in the agriculture industry have shown their commitment to ensuring reasonable working conditions by developing an 'ethical seal'. Only farms that follow sound labour practices will be permitted to bear the seal on their products.

Despite some confusion over the exact conditions of temporary employment in the amended Labour Relations Act it is clear that labour brokers will still be allowed to operate. Nritika Singh sheds light on the proposed changes in some of SA's most important labour bills.

Protecting vulnerable workers, reintegrating work seekers into the labour market and ensuring decent work, has been rated as the three priority areas by the Department of Labour over the course of the 2012/13, financial year.

The national youth employment situation will come under review when the Department of Labour along with young people, policy-makers and social partners meet to exchange views at the National Youth Employment Summit.

In March, cabinet approved the submission of the amendment bills for the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) to Parliament. The two will deal with the phenomenon of labour broking and child labour, among other things.

The development of a centralized disciplinary structure, which will assist departments with investigative work as well as prosecutorial and adjudication functions, has topped the list of priorities of Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie.

The Essential Services Committee will receive the power to represent government in labour law matters. The number of workers required to be on duty during a strike is one of the issues the committee is expected to address and resolve.

As part of an investigation into wages and conditions of employment in the sector the Department of Labour (DoL) launched a series of national public hearings to review the Private Security Sectoral Determination.

The proposed amendments to labour law legislation is expected to receive widespread commentary from trade unions, specifically COSATU and business. Labour law consultant Jonathan Goldberg discusses the potential impact of these changes.

All stakeholders who have an interest in the proposed labour law amendments submitted by Labour minister Mildred Oliphant; have been invited to participate in public briefings. These feedback sessions will be used solely to provide the public with progress reports.

Cabinet has approved two bills for submission to Parliament that deal with the phenomenon of labour broking and child labour, among others. "We are saying temporary work will be limited to six months" - Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

The national Cabinet has approved the Labour Relations Amendment Bill which will regulate the labour broking industry. Cabinet spokesman Jimmy Manyi explains conditions of temp work agreements.
Download the Amendment Bills
BCEA Amendment Bill
LRA Amendment Bill

Social media may offer new channels for communicating with stakeholders but online social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace can also act as a platform for negative publicity. Do you, as the employer have any control over what is said about your business?

The rise in CCMA cases over the last five years has sparked the interest of labour law professionals and emphasised the need to manage human resource processes with care. Labour relations specialist Sally Morgan speaks about the impact of this phenomenon on the business world.

Do you know what your employees are saying about you on Facebook? Staff members can cause irreparable damage to your public image through online platforms. Policies regarding digital communication in the workplace are becoming imperative.

While disagreements between employer and employee are to be expected from time to time a recent case study shows the consequences of disrespect and insubordination in the workplace.

Traditional definitions state that a person only gains the status of "employee' upon commencement of physical work, however Jonathan Goldberg uses a recent lawsuit to emphasise the importance of developing concise and legal employment contracts.

Many employers remove disciplinary warnings from an employees record once the warning has lapsed, but is the good practice? Jonathan Goldberg says that there is no provision in either the labour legislation or case law that supports this notion.

What is the recourse for employers who want to prove an employees guilt? Jonathan Goldberg speaks about the legimate techniques available to employers and the illegal methods that law-abiding managers should avoid.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi reminded South Africans that the Department of Labour was still the final authority on all labour law matters and has strongly refuted speculations that South Africa's labour legislation might be relaxed in the future.

Wage negotiations which result in costly settlements 'inevitably lead to job losses as most employers will not be able to pass this cost on to their customers' says labour law specialist Jonathan Goldberg in his comparative analysis of industrial action in 2010 and 2011.

The courts are taking a stand against 'abusive versions' of termination clauses which are rife in temporary contracts and Jonathan Goldberg cautions employers to consider the wording of the termination clauses and the purpose for which they are drafted.


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