labour law

Ivan Israelstam

Once the employer has decided upon the successful applicant after a recruitment exercise, the critical period of making an offer and negotiation on terms and conditions commences. Ivan Israelstam suggests that an employment contract should not be concluded until all these negotiations are agreed. Read on to find out why this is so important.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam explains what happened to employers who tried to avoid the requirements of the section on probation in the Code of Good Practice on Dismissal. Pretending an employee is on a fixed term contract - or an independent contractor - will cause just as much trouble at the CCMA. So the best practice is to provide the counselling, guidance or training that a probationary employee requires.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam makes the case that labour law has become more restrictive upon employers. He explains that those who have used repeated fixed term contracts should no longer do that - only employ on a fixed term contract where there is a genuine short term job. Secondly, using labour brokers - TES or temporary employment services - has also become more restrictive and difficult as a result of the latest labour law amendments.

Ivan Israelstam

Before embarking on disciplinary procedures in serious cases of misconduct, employers often question whether the action is enough to warrant dismissal. One of the key factors in this decision is whether the trust relationship has been broken. This week Ivan Israelstam explains why this factor is important.

Ivan Israelstam

Employers and labour lawyers frequently complain that the decisions of CCMA commissioners are inconsistent and consequently awards vary considerably and don't provide guidance on the standard to follow. This makes it difficult for employers to know how they should conduct their internal disciplinary processes. This week Ivan Israelstam explains how guidelines for commissioners conducting Misconduct Arbitrations will lead to more consistent decision-making.

Ivan Israelstam

Employers should be aware that allowing senior management to overrule junior management, who are more knowledgeable and experienced in disciplinary procedures may be risky. This week in his second article of the series, Ivan Israelstam explains what double jeopardy is, and how employers who fail to understand double jeopardy, may make very costly mistakes.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam launches a series of articles dealing with the changes to labour law implemented by the Department of Labour. The articles will also make reference to how case law - that is decisions by the CCMA, bargaining councils and courts affect how the labour laws are to be implemented.

Ivan Israelstam

Schedule 8 Code of Good Practice: Dismissal indicates that the hearing to determine whether an employee should be dismissed does not need to be formal. However, Ivan Israelstam argues that in order to prove at the CCMA that the employer did respect the employer's rights, there needs to be formal documentation.

Ivan Israelstam

As ivan Israelstam demonstrates this week, there are many reasons why spiteful actions arise in workplaces. But when emotions and egos come into play, the results can be both expensive and destructive for the business. To avoid these dangers you may want to read on and follow Ivan's advice.

Ivan Israelstam

What makes an employment relationship intolerable, and why is this important anyway? Those are the questions that Ivan Israelstam addresses this week. He explains why it is important that an employer understands what this means, and what other factors to take into account before proceeding with a dismissal decision.

Ivan Israelstam

This week Ivan Israelstam explains the differences between a retrenchment (an operational requirements dismissal) and a mutually agreed termination of an employment contract. The procedures to be followed are different and the nature of the document that concludes the ending of the employment contract are significantly different. Mixing up these two types of agreement can be expensive.

Ivan Israelstam

In the mid 1990s the old labour legislation was repealed and was replaced by our current Labour Relations Act (LRA) negotiated between government, employers and trade unions. Due to the fact that parties had substantially different agendas they were often unable to agree on a number of important details of law which were therefore omitted from the LRA. Some detail as to the intention of the law is provided in the form of codes of good practice and other gaps may be filled by case law. Ivan Israelstam explains further.

Ivan Israelstam

Employees, just like most other people, tend to look after their own interests first. They are, in most cases, working to satisfy their own needs, whether such needs are financial, self actualising or based on other motives. For this reason common law, while recognising the employee’s right to look after his/her own interests, balances out this right with the employee’s obligation to ensure that the satisfaction of his/her interests does not conflict with those of the employer.

Ivan Israelstam

The trade union movement in South Africa is extremely powerful. This is not only because of the high proportion of unionised employees and because of the extremely strong legislation supporting unionisation but also because of the political alliance between the biggest union confederation and the ruling party. This week Ivan Israelstam advises employers not to underestimate the power of trade unions.

Ivan Israelstam

The level of work performance of employees is a crucial factor in the advancement of South Africa’s economy and in the success of each enterprise. This is one reason that the law does allow employers to dismiss employees who fail to perform according to performance standards. However, the same legislation lays down very stringent tests to establish whether dismissal for poor performance is appropriate in each specific instance.

Ivan Israelstam

The huge losses resulting from the current spate of strike raise the question of how such strikes can be prevented. Is it possible that private arbitration could reduce the damage of extended strikes? Ivan Israelstam explains how this may be done.

Ivan Israelstam

Section 186 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) gives every employee the right not to be unfairly dismissed or to be subjected to unfair labour practices. Schedule 8 of the LRA provides that “The employee should be entitled to a reasonable time to prepare the response..”

Ivan Israelstam

Employees who are seen as trouble-makers, eccentrics, disruptive, disagreeable, pushy, non-compliant, independent or who merely refuse to ‘suck up’ to the boss often find themselves on the wrong side of the exit door.

Ivan Israelstam

The term ‘shop steward’ is a colloquial one and refers to the employee elected as the workplace representative by fellow employees who belong to the relevant trade union. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) officially refers to shop stewards as “trade union representatives”, and section 14 of the LRA gives these representatives (shop stewards) a number of special rights.

Ivan Israelstam

One of the most difficult situations for companies to handle is an arbitration award that requires reinstatement or re-employment of previously dismissed employees. Apart from implications for the management of the rest of the workforce, the requirement not to be seen to victimise the employee/s is critical. Ivan Israelstam explains.

Ivan Israelstam

Employers ask whether a disciplinary code is necessary in terms of labour law. This week Ivan Israelstam explains why he believes that a disciplinary code is a valuable tool for employers.

Ivan Israelstam

The Employment Equity Act amendments now require all employers to ensure that they do not pay employees doing the same, or substantially the same work, different remuneration packages. This applies whether the position is full or part-time (where the rate should be pro-rated according to the hours worked), in different departments, temporary or permanent workers, male or female workers - or any other irrelevant criteria. Ivan Israelstam explains what the employer needs to do to compare jobs.

Ivan Israelstam

Takeovers, mergers and acquisitions are common business activities, as are decisions to outsource part of a company's activities. These business arrangements have implications for the employment relationship, but it is not always easily defined where the labour law and contractual obligations lie. Ivan Israelstam explains how these matters are viewed by the labour courts.

Ivan Israelstam

The precise nature of the ownership of companies can sometimes be difficult to discern. But employers should be under no illusion that if they attempt to avoid labour law obligations by creating complex ownership schemes, the CCMA and the labour courts will devote time and attention to "unveiling" the true nature of the ownership and the employer obligation. In this manner, more than one company may become jointly and severally responsible for the labour law obligations. Ivan Israelstam provides examples of how this may happen.

Ivan Israelstam

Employees and union officials sometimes allege that an employer is trying to "work an employee out", that is making life so uncomfortable that the employee will choose to leave and find work elsewhere. However, in South Africa with such extremely high levels of unemployment, alternative jobs are not easy to come by. As a result employees will remain with the company and put up with the unfair treatment - or alternatively, resign and allege that they had no alternative course of action - that the employer effectively caused the termination. Ivan Israelstam explains the test to prove such an allegation.

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