Unfair Labour Practice in South Africa

Unfair Labour Practice in South Africa as Related to the Violation of Employee Rights

Understanding employee rights is crucial to understanding unfair labour practice in South Africa. The violation of employee rights is not necessarily enough reason to lodge a complaint at the CCMA, or to take legal steps against an employer in South Africa. Various factors must be considered. It would be wise to discuss these factors with our team of lawyers specialising in all aspects of unfair labour practice in South Africa.

To help you gain a better understanding of unfair labour practice in South Africa, we briefly discuss your rights as an employee. Keep in mind, your employee rights are obligations that the employer must fulfil, and your employer’s rights are the duties that you must carry out in your position within the business.

Your Employee Rights

You have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. If the employer terminates the employment contract for any reason other than the allowable reasons as stated by law, then it is unfair labour practice. It is also unfair labour practice if the employer does not follow the correct procedure in terminating employment, regardless of the reason for ending the employment contract.

The employer must provide you with relevant and appropriate equipment and resources to do the tasks forming part of your duties.

The employer must see to it that the work conditions are safe. If you, for instance, have to climb up the roof of a house to paint the roof, then the employer must see to it that you have the right equipment and safety gear. The employer must also ensure that you know and follow the correct safety procedures.

However, if you blatantly ignore safety procedures, then you are causing the unsafe work conditions. It is thus your duty to follow the correct safety procedures. The employer may not instruct you to do otherwise. The equipment supplied must also be in working and safe condition.

Many smaller employers in South Africa fail to pay salaries and wages on the agreed-upon dates. Because employees fear being dismissed for complaining about such, the employers often get away with the practice. However, if you are such an employee, you should note that it is your right to be remunerated on time. Failure on the part of the employer to do so is unfair labour practice.

You have the right to receive fair labour practices and thus not be discriminated against for reasons such as colour, race, ethnic group, religion, and gender. The employer may not victimise you for claiming your employee rights and following procedures to get compensation for the violation of your rights.

You are also entitled to your leave benefits. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act stipulates the leave benefits. Read the BCEA to get a better understanding of your employee rights, and when an action of the employer falls within the scope of unfair labour practice in South Africa. If your rights have been infringed upon, we strongly recommend speaking to our team of lawyers regarding the appropriate steps to take against the employer.

The above said, your employer also has certain rights. You have specific obligations towards your employer. Below is a brief discussion of these rights and obligations.

The Employer Also Has Rights

The employer has the right to expect you to provide the agreed-upon work on the dates and times which were agreed upon, and to perform your duties under his/her supervision. The employer has the right to demand that the job instructions be followed and that you obey the instructions. However, the instructions must be reasonable and lawful.

The employer can expect you to follow the rules of the company, including policies and procedures, to adhere to the company standards for work and quality, and to use the resources and procedures of the company.

As an employee, you must follow the rules and policies, also regarding performance.

The employer is entitled to expect that you will report to him/her about unlawful or dishonest practices taking place in the company. This also pertains to the violation of policies and procedures.

As can be seen from the above, the employment relationship is a two-way street. Even if you fail in your obligations towards the employer, you still have the right to not be a victim of unfair labour practice. The employer must still follow the correct procedure in taking disciplinary action against you and for dismissing you for fair reasons.

Call on our lawyers for legal guidance if you have been a victim of unfair labour practice 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. This information is relevant to the date of publishing – January 2018.

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