workers rights


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A disciplinary warning is an oral or written statement made by an employer informing the employee that his/her conduct or performance level is not acceptable and that any further failure to meet the required standards will result in stronger measures being taken. In this sense a warning is not a punishment. Instead it is a notification that punishment or other corrective measures could follow.

Unions worldwide play an essential role in protecting the rights and interests of employees, particularly at lower income levels where individuals may not have recourse to legal services and representation.  Correcting the power imbalance between employer and employee is often a critical function performed by unions.

South African labour law requires all discipline to be corrective rather than punitive. When an employer disciplines an employee twice for the very same incident of misconduct, the CCMA is likely to see this as punitive.

South African employers often lose at CCMA and bargaining councils in cases relating to fixed-term contracts. A key reason for this is that employers do not understand the legal purpose of fixed-term contracts and the circumstances under which they are safe to implement or terminate.


An increasing number of cases are being reported of employees being fired for being absent from work, outside of annual leave and sick leave. A recent case concerning the public broadcaster has brought the issue under the spotlight.


Employees employed in a sector falling outside of the scope of a trade union's constitution, may still be represented by that trade union in dismissal disputes. However, as previously held by the Labour Court, such representation does not include an entitlement to bargain collectively with an employer on behalf of those employees.


In order to optomise the corrective effect of discipline it needs to be implemented as swiftly as possible. This does not mean that the disciplinary process must be carried out hastily. It does mean that, psychologically and legally, unnecessary delays must be avoided.


The Department of Employment and Labour Is calling on employers to take action to stop harassment in the workplace. This comes after more than 1000 disputes were referred to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) over the last year.


Dismissing employees who have been arrested can be dangerous.It seems obvious to employers that, if an employee is arrested by the police he has ‘dismissed himself’.


Where businesses and other organisations are unable to get work done by robots they need to acquire the necessary skills by hiring staff. A key  question then arises as to whether the money expended in order to acquire and retain these employee skills should be seen as an expense or as an investment.


The law considers absenteeism over short periods (a day or two) without leave or without good reason as minor misconduct. However, when even short periods of absence become the norm amongst a workforce this can constitute an extremely serious problem for the employer.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is calling for a national strike on Thursday, October 7th 2021. They are calling on their workers to join their marchers or to stay away from work.




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