a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court confirmed, in no uncertain terms, that racism in the workplace will not be tolerated, and that employees who are found guilty of racism can expect to receive the harshest of punishments for their actions. However, the case also confirms that employers need to act procedurally correctly when seeking to dismiss employees guilty of alleged racism in the workplace.
the panel appointed to advise on the level at which the country’s national minimum wage should be set, has proposed that this amount should be ZAR3500.00 per month. The proposal is one of a number of measures aimed at seeking to ensure stability in the labour market, by reducing income poverty and inequality. Currently, 47% of those who work earn less than this proposed minimum wage amount.
Harassment in the workplace in South Africa is primarily regulated by the Employment Equity Act (EEA), which categorises the harassment of an employee as a form of unfair discrimination. However, a recent judgment indicates that claims of harassment can also be brought under a more recent piece of legislation, namely the Protection from Harassment Act (the Harassment Act). The significance of the case is, firstly, that it indicates that employees who experience harassment in the workplace that may not qualify as unfair discrimination under the EEA (e.g. if the harassment is not due to race, gender or some other ground of discrimination), could potentially obtain a remedy under the Harassment Act instead and, secondly, a single act is unlikely to qualify as harassment (under the Harassment Act at least).
A private members bill has been tabled in Parliament, which contains a proposal to afford 10 days of paid parental leave to employees (either male or female) on the birth of their child or in the case of adoption or surrogacy. The proposed amendment is also aimed at catering for
The wage negotiations in the retail motor industry are coming to a head. As things stand, following unsuccessful negotiations between the dominant union in the industry, the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA), and the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), NUMSA could give the retail motor industry 48 hours’ notice of its intention to strike over its demands in relation to, amongst others, wage increases for the next three years.
Car manufacturers have agreed to a three-year wage deal with trade union, NUMSA, following successful wage negotiations which took place without any disruptions or work stoppages. The focus has now shifted to the retail motor industry, where wage negotiations are reaching their final stages.
In a recent case, the Labour Court, again dealing with the issue of allegedly invalid/unlawful dismissals, makes it clear that the fact that a dismissal may be invalid does not mean in itself that a dispute in relation to that dismissal is urgent. Referring to, and clarifying the judgment in the SABC case, the Labour Court states that, while it is possible to bring a claim of an invalid dismissal to the Labour Court, if litigants wish to do so on an urgent basis, they have to make out a proper case for the urgency of their matter (as they would have to do with any other claim).
The Labour Court handed down an important judgment against the state broadcaster (the “SABC”). The SABC had recently decided that footage of violent protests (relating to poor delivery of basic services by government) and destruction of property would no longer be broadcast on TV news, and imposed this policy unilaterally on its journalists. This created a public uproar and several journalists employed by the SABC, including the applicants in this case, publicly voiced their objections about the policy. The SABC first suspended the journalists who had spoken out about the policy, which was in the meantime declared unconstitutional by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa. Subsequently, the SABC dismissed the journalists, who in turn brought an urgent claim to the Labour Court, seeking to have their dismissals declared unlawful. The Labour Court found in favour of the journalists, holding that the dismissals of the journalists were unlawful (as opposed to being unfair under the applicable legislation, which could only be determined at an arbitration proceeding) as they had not been afforded a hearing prior to their dismissals, as provided for in the SABC’s disciplinary code, which formed part of their contracts of employment. Furthermore, for dismissing the journalists for breaching a policy, which had been found to be unconstitutional, the Court held that the SABC had breached its constitutional obligations.
In a recent case, the Constitutional Court authoritatively held that when designing an Employment Equity Plan in order to comply with affirmative action legislation, employers have to consider both regional and national demographics in relation to designated groups (black people, women, and people with disabilities) providing clarity regarding a much-debated issue.
i) A number of strikes for higher wages are underway in the petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries – against this backdrop, Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, still feeling the effects of previous rounds of crippling strikes, announced that it had cut its workforce by nearly 20% by the end of 2016, in a bid to keep afloat. ii) Negotiations by social partners at national level about the possible introduction of a national minimum wage are ongoing.