Unfair Labour Practices by Employer

Examples of Unfair Labour Practices by Employer and Why You Need to Get it Right

Have you just read an online article about a business that was taken down by the CCMA over an unfair labour practice dispute? Are you worried that you may not be as up to scratch on the BCEA and LRA as you should be? In a volatile economic climate such as ours, running any type of business is tough, and the last thing you need is to find yourself on the wrong side of an unfair labour practice dispute at the CCMA.

A nightmare for both small and large businesses, today organisations simply cannot afford take chances with their employees’ rights. Employees are a lot more informed today and they know that at little or no cost, they can bring a case against their employer who has treated them poorly or unfairly – and they usually do. Owing to the protection of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (Act No. 75 of 1997), employees are well protected and every worker is entitled to fair labour practices.

What is unfair labour practice and how can you avoid ending up at the CCMA? If it infringes upon the employee’s fundamental rights, is one-sided, unnecessary and/or inappropriate under the circumstances, it falls under unfair labour practice. Here are some examples of common unfair labour practices by employers:

  • Failure to Re-Employ a Former Employee – a no-no in South African labour law. If an employee was retrenched, but it was agreed that the employer would re-employ them if a suitable position became available, but the employer disregarded the agreement and hired another worker, the employer will be guilty of unfair labour practice and will end up paying the employer a large sum of money.
  • Unfair Suspension or Disciplinary Action – many organisations believe they are above the law and they often go down in flames. A good example would be getting into an argument with an employee and ordering them to pack up their things and leave. A serious and very common example of unfair labour practice by an employer, it is illegal and a dignity violation.
  • Unreasonable Promotion, Demotion, Probation, Training, or Benefits – this often involves an employer who deviates from their own promotion or training policies, or where the employee alleges that the promotion, demotion, or training is in itself unfair. An example would be when a pregnant employee and an employee who is not pregnant apply for the same promotion, training, or extra benefits, but the employee who is not pregnant is chosen. The failure to promote all employees or the pregnant employee will not sit well with the CCMA. A dispute such as this can easily turn into a serious racial or gender discrimination dispute, so be warned.
  • Whistle-Blowing – a whistle-blower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal or unethical. Unlike America, whistle-blowing is a heroic act in South Africa, and an employee is well protected for revealing illegal or criminal acts and may not be dismissed or subjected to any form of disciplinary action or intimidation.

Just because you own a business and employ people does not make you an expert on the LRA or BCEA. Like a wise financial manager can lead a business to prosperity, an ignorant managing director can lead a business to liquidation, which is why it’s best to arm yourself with the assistance of a boutique labour law firm such as Allardyce & Partners. For more information on unfair labour practices, contact us at reception@www.allardyce.co.za or on 011 234 2125 today.


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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