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May 2021 2nd edition

Know your labour rights

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Workers’ Day on 1 May provides an opportunity to reflect on the rights of employees in South Africa.

While South Africa’s Constitution and labour laws ensure that workers’ rights are protected, it is important that all people know their basic workplace rights.

The Basic Conditions of Employment (BCE) Act prescribes certain minimum conditions of employment which must be adhered to by both the employer and the employee.

These rights can be enforced by both the worker and the employer, be it a private company or a state entity.

The Director of Mosikare Attorneys, Naledi Mosikare (34), says that these rights are a basic requirement for the an employer and employee relationship.

Employees in South Africa are entitled to compensation, which is agreed on upfront, for work done.

This compensation may not be lower than the current minimum wage of R21.69 per hour, as spelled out in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Act of 2018.

The BCE Act stipulates the number of working hours; the lunch and break times; the minimum amount of the different leave days; and other basic conditions of employment.

Mosikare says these laws and rules protect employees from being exploited while at the same time ensuring that employers get what they pay for.

“The law also requires employers to register employees with the Compensation Fund in case they are injured on duty.

“Employees are guaranteed safety in the workplace and when the employer does not adhere to that, the worker can work within these laws to enforce the implementation of their rights.”

 

How to handle grievances

Mosikare says that employees should engage employers when they feel their rights are not being respected. This can be done through meetings that are recorded in official minutes.

When internal communication fails between the employer and worker, there are other alternatives for resolution, such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The dispute resolution body can help both parties come to an agreement and offer judgments when a dispute remains unresolved after the CCMA’s intervention.

Wage disputes can be negotiated and settled through the National Bargaining Council or the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, for those working in the public service.

“These structures ensure that employees and employers are able to negotiate compensation fairly and protect the rights of the employees,” Mosikare explains.

Employees whose labour rights are not being respected can also approach their local Department of Employment and Labour.  

 

For more information, go to the department’s website - www.labour.gov.za – or call 012 309 4000.

Contact the CCMA at 011 377 6650 or go to www.ccma.org.za