– by Samantha Higgins
Labour Law in the Workplace, it seems, is a popular topic, following the resounding turn-out of keen attendees at our complimentary workshop. Labour Law Practices are vast and frequently changing, whether positioned as an employer or employee, it is crucial to know what constitutes your basic rights and what tools are available should any issues arise in your day to day working life.
The workshop forum was informal, encouraging exchange and insight from attendees, and allowed the dissemination of relevant examples. The discussion started with a ‘simple’ question; Who is an employee? It was soon apparent that this term covers an array of definitions. In our modern age, the landscape of employment has evolved, digitised and automated, an employee can work remotely, for a company that has no bricks and mortar, as a part-timer, ‘temp’, job sharer or fixed-term contractor. The dynamics are vast, and these variables need coverage in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Labour law is now expected to cover these atypical roles. Labour Brokers’ operating procedures and the protection of fixed-term contractors has undergone radical change in favour of protecting employees’ rights, set in place by the Constitutional Court.
The topic progressed to varying types of dismissal and the concept that ‘fair reason’, without ‘fair procedure’, does not constitute a ‘fair dismissal’. The positive aspect of South African law protecting dismissal, includes corrective and progressive discipline, giving employees a chance to rectify behaviour. The role of the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) is an unbiased, independent authority, operating to resolve conflict and ensure fair labour practice. There is no restriction as to who can present a case to this authority; any type of employer/employee relationship is valid. Still, submission of evidence needs to occur within 30 days of a dispute.
Several law students were attendees at the workshop, Nkosikhona Zulu a fourth-year law student at UKZN, found the workshop very informative, it reinforced his learning aligned to his Labour Law module. It updated him on recommendations and case studies.
Sphesihle Zuma, a supervisor at a High school who recently completed his PhD in Education, said his interest was piqued and he feels motivated to attend the next Certificate in Labour Law Programme on 20th July 2020. For more information about this programme and to register, please click here or email Thobeka Malinga: [email protected]