Labour Laws

Introduction to the Labour Laws of South Africa – The Employment Contract and Your Rights as an Employee

South Africa has three main labour laws, namely the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act, and the Employment Equity Act. Understandably, as an employee, you may not know all your rights or don’t have expertise regarding these labour laws of the country because your field of expertise may not be law related at all.

We thus take a brief look at the employment contract which is regulated by the Basic Conditions Act – one of the main labour laws in the country. This is to help you understand the importance of the employment contract as a form of security in your relationship with the employer.

Important Information in the Employment Contract

Although the labour laws of the country, such as the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Equity Act, don’t stipulate that the employment contract must be in writing, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act stipulates that the employer must give the employee a written letter of appointment or contract upon commencement of employment.

The contract must include the full details of the employer, such as name and address. It must also state the place where the employee must work or is permitted to work, and must include the details of the employee. The details include the name and occupation, and a short description of the position of the employee or duties that must be performed. The date at which employment commences, ordinary work hours, the days of the week that the employee must work, wages and/or rate at which wages are calculated, when wages are to be paid and at what intervals, and the leave days that the employee can take must be included.

The employment contract must also include the terms of notice regarding employment termination, or for which period the worker is employed. It should include any period of employment at another employer which the employer deems as part of the employee’s work period at the current employer, a list of documents which form part of the contract, and a description of the council which governs employment in the particular sector.

If you don’t understand all the details of the employment contract, be sure to request a full explanation of such in understandable language. If you don’t agree with the terms of employment, discuss such with the employer. If you come to an agreement which leads to changes in the contract, then the employer must revise the agreement and provide you with the contract that reflects the changes made.

Your employer must also keep record of your employment for a minimum of three years after the employment contract has been terminated. Upon termination of the employment, you are entitled to a written statement of service. This means that the employer, regardless of the reason for employment termination, must provide you with a document that states the date at which employment commenced, the last day of employment, and the job title for the position you held.

Who is Excluded?

Some of the above conditions don’t apply if the employer has fewer than five employees, or if you work for the employer for less than 24 hours a month.

Termination of Employment

It is recommended that you read through the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, as one of the important labour laws of the country, to get an idea of when dismissal is fair and according to fair proceedings. Even if you are dismissed for misconduct, the employer must still follow the correct procedures for dismissing you. This means that the proper procedure must be followed, and the correct payment of wages and leave days due must be made. It is also imperative that the reason for termination of employment is fair.

Contact us at or on (011) 234 2125 for legal assistance should your employer be in breach of your employment contract or you need help in resolving another labour law issue.


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.

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