The CCMA was recently faced with a dispute before it (South African Transport and Allied Workers Union obo Qendwana and others / Bidvest Protea Coin (Pty) Ltd – (2020) 29 CCMA 6.7.8 also reported at [2020] 11 BALR 1235 (CCMA) ) where five former employees claimed that it had committed unfair labour practices against them on the basis it alleged that their erstwhile employer Bidvest Protea Coin(“Bidvest”) had made unlawful deductions against their salaries upon their summary resignations.

Bidvest argued that it did make such deductions however argued that these were not unlawful. It contended that they were entitled to do so because the employees had outstanding loans from a service provider, which the employees had agreed with the service provider that it could be claimed by way of salary deductions, if the loans were not repaid; and because the employees resigned in March 2020 without notice.

The CCMA assumed jurisdiction because the Commissioner noted that the employees all earned below the threshold, which is R205 433.33 pa, thus giving the CCMA jurisdiction to entertain the claim. 

The Commissioner found that the loan agreement on which Bidvest relied did not authorise it to make deductions from the employees’ salaries but rather that the agreement was between the service provider and the employees. On this basis the service provider could recover the loans from the employees would be by virtue of the contractual breach and would have to enforce by was to an emoluments attachment order which it had not done. 

The Commissioner further found that the employer, Bidvest was precluded by the BCEA (section 34) from deducting amounts from the employees’ salaries in these circumstances notwithstanding their failure to work out their notice periods.

The Commissioner found that the deductions were unlawful and was ordered to pay the amounts due.

It is important to always seek legal advice to secure your rights as an employer, in the event of any possible losses, due to conduct on the part of an employee especially upon termination whether through resignation or dismissal for whatsoever reason as you may not simply deduct monies from an employee’s salary without complying with the provisions of section 34 of BCEA.

NB: Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Should you require more information on this topic or any issue arising out of this please contact Allardyce & Partners on 011-234 2125 or enquiries@allardyce.co.za