Construction Law

The Compulsory Shutdown for Builders’ Holiday

South Africa’s construction industry usually shuts down around mid-December for the annual “Builders’ Holiday”. Throughout 2020, COVID-19 has caused unexpected delays because of lockdown, workplace protocols, and occupational health and safety regulations. This caused a backlog that could influence the Builders’ Holiday period, as an industry group for the construction sector in South Africa has suggested that the shutdown should be reduced to 5 working days instead. Normally, this period would stretch over a month’s time, and is planned to start on 15 December 2020, picking back up again mid-January. This year, the proposed Builders’ Holiday should start on 24 December 2020 and end on 5 January 2020.

The Reasons Behind the Proposed Shortened Break

COVID-19 is the primary cause of the current backlog regarding the construction sector in South Africa. Because of South Africa’s strict lockdown regulations throughout 2020, construction projects were halted with the entire sector being closed on 27 March 2020 under level-5 lockdown restrictions. On 1 June 2020, level 3 was introduced, allowing the construction sector to get going again. Therefore, the shortened Builders’ Holiday was proposed by the Construction COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Team. The proposal to shorten the Builders’ Holiday should only be viewed as a recommendation by construction companies when coming to an agreement with their workforce, as stressed by the Task Team.

Will There Be Any Legal Obligations Regarding a Possible Shortened Builders’ Holiday?

Each individual construction company should be aware of their legal obligations toward their employees in accordance with the Construction Law of South Africa, that is also subject to the provisions of the BCEA and any main agreements. Therefore, the holiday period will rely on the agreed-upon terms and conditions between employer and employee. If there is no such agreement in your employment contract, it is up to your employer to determine the period, in accordance with Construction Law obligations, related employee agreements, BCEA provisions, and any other main agreements.

If you seek legal advice, Allardyce & Partners Attorneys offers Construction Law specialists that can assist you in legal matters regarding this sector in South Africa. Please contact us on 011 234 2125 or email us at enquiries@allardyce.co.za today.