What Every Employer Should Know About Employment Contracts in South Africa
If you are an employer, it is highly recommended that you make use of lawyers or attorneys versed in labour law to help you draft employment contracts, to ensure compliance with the Basic Conditions of Employment and Labour Relations acts. These labour law lawyers will be able to assist to ensure fairness in the contracts and would also be able to help, should labour disputes arise. We take brief look at some the requirements in Chapter 4 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act to help you understand the complexities related to the employment contract.
According to the Act, when employment commences, an employer must, in writing, provide an employee with certain details, such as the full name and address of the employer, full names of the employee, the details of the position filled, brief information about what the position entails, the place where the employee works and is permitted to work, and the date upon which employment starts.
These written particulars should also include the ordinary hours of work expected from the employee, the days that the employee must work, the wage rate or the method for calculation of wages, details regarding the rate for overtime work, and any cash payments that the employee is rightfully entitled to, in addition to any other payment or value in payment that the employee will receive. The contract must also state when remuneration will be paid and at what frequency, and which deductions will be made from the employee’s wages or salary.
The employer must precisely stipulate how many leave days the employee is entitled to and what the notice period of termination of employment is. The employer should furthermore provide full details of any documents that may form part of the written employment contract and clearly indicate where these documents can be located or where the employee can obtain copies of them.
It is also necessary to provide the employee with a copy of the employment contract and, if there are any changes in the contract, these must be discussed with the employee and the employee should subsequently also receive a copy of the contract to which changes have been made. We therefore recommend that you seek legal guidance from experienced lawyers or from labour law attorneys regarding the precise wording of the contract. Keep in mind that, should an employee not be able to understand the written details, the employer is compelled by law to see to it that a full and detailed explanation of it is given to the employee in a language and a way that is reasonably understandable for the employee.
Employers often do not realise that it is also a legal requirement to keep written record of the employment contract and of the conditions of employment for a period of at least three years after the termination of employment by either party. Should a dispute arise after termination of employment, the employer will need to refer back to the employment contract. Do not fall foul of the law on this score.
It is imperative that the employer should understand that certain sections of Chapter 4 of the Basic Conditions of Employment may not apply if the employee works less than 24 hours a month at the specific employer, and if the employer has fewer than five employees. With amendments to the Act coming into effect from time to time, the employer should ensure ongoing compliance with the legal requirements of the Act. In this regard, the expert assistance of attorneys or lawyers versed in labour law will prove to be invaluable in a bid to stay up to date on amendments to the applicable laws.
Contact our labour law lawyers on (011) 234 2125 for professional assistance in drafting employment contracts in South Africa.
NB: This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You are advised to consult with us before using/relying on this information.