New Year New Legislation

on Wednesday, 11 February 2015. Posted in News

The long-awaited amendments to the Labour Relations Act, as incorporated in the Labour Relations Amendment Act, No. 6 of 2014, came effect on the 1st of January 2015. The Amendment Act may have a significant impact on how you structure and run your businesses.

A key intention of The LRAA is to ensure that vulnerable groups of employees receive adequate protection. Some of the most important amendments introduced by the LRAA relates to employees employed through a Temporary Employment Service ("TES") – also known as labour brokers, Fixed Term Employees and Part Time workers. These employees will enjoy far greater protection than previously. The amendments are primarily intended to limit the use of these employees to true short term contracts (three months or less or to replace another employee who is temporarily absent). There are other areas of the LRA which have been amended but let's briefly look at effect on your Fixed Term Contracts and Part Time workers

Fixed Term Contracts
Employers will not be able to employ its employees on a fixed-term basis for longer than three months unless it can be shown that a longer fixed-term period is justifiable due to the nature of the work or due to an alternative justifiable reason. Justifiable reasons could include one or more of ten specified reasons listed in the LRAA which include

  • Seasonal or cyclical operations;
  • Temporary increases in work volumes – less than 12 months;
  • Specific project of a defined/limited duration;
  • Replacement/substitution of an employee on a temporary leave of absence;
  • Temporary employment for training/work experience;
  • Non-citizen with a limited work permit;
  • A position that requires external funding for a limited period.
  • Official public works/public job creation scheme.
  • A superannuated individual (i.e. has reached normal retirement age).

Onus on employer to prove that any other reason may be justifiable.
Any offer, renewal or extension must be in writing and must set out the reasons for the fixed-term.

Fixed-term employees employed for longer than three months are to be treated on the whole not less favourably than permanent employees and are also to be guaranteed the same opportunities as permanent employees in terms of vacancies.

Employees who are employed for a fixed-term period longer than three months, in the absence of a justifiable reason, will be deemed to be a permanent employee.

Part Time employees
Employers are to ensure that part-time employees are treated on the whole not less favourably in comparison to full-time employees and that those part-time employees are provided with the same access to training and skills opportunities that are available to full-time employees.
As with fixed-term employees, part-time employees must also be provided with the same opportunities regarding workplace vacancies. A part-time employee will be considered comparable to a full-time employee if the employees are employed in terms of the same type of employment relationship that involves the same or similar kind of work at the same workplace

The message is clear, ensure you have up to date contracts – Permanent and Fixed term, that you conduct an audit of you temporary staff and contract staff and can justify the use of them and that you are satisfied that your FTC and Part Time staff are on the whole treated as favourable as permanent staff.

If in doubt call me!