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Can an employee be dismissed for non-declaration of past misconduct?

An employee’s departure from an organisation is not always on good terms. A prospective employer who comes to know about this may have some reservations about employing the job applicant, irrespective of what led to the breakdown of the relationship with the previous employer. While the job seeker does not have to refer to this in the CV, the issue may very well come up in the job interview. Being evasive at this stage is likely to be more problematic. But how far does the duty to disclose go?

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Can annual leave be forfeited?

There are two types of annual leave available to employees in any business – non-statutory annual leave and statutory annual leave. While most employees make a point of using their annual leave, some may ask to forfeit their leave for various reasons. The question is, can annual leave be forfeited? The short answer is that both non-statutory and statutory annual leave can actually be forfeited. Read on for further explanation.

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Contracting workers outside of the Labour Relations Act

Imagine a situation where an employer does not have a job vacancy, but agrees to accommodate a person as a favour. The person is employed with the clear understanding that if things do not work out, the contract may be terminated without the employee having recourse to the remedies afforded by the Labour Relations Act. Can this be done? This article explores this question by looking at a CCMA case involving the owner of a small business.

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Do employees have to bare the brunt of load-shedding?

The recent power outages have given rise to the question as to whether employees can insist on payment of their salaries or wages for the duration of such outages. In short, employees are normally entitled to payment during a power outage, but employers are not entirely at the mercy of Eskom. They can enter into a contractual arrangement with their employees to mitigate the situation. Here are five applicable principles which underpin why this is.

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How useful are contractual notice periods?

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) provides for minimum notice of termination of employment as: one week, if the employee has been employed for six months or less; two weeks, if the employee has been employed for more than six months, but not more than one year; or four weeks, if the employee has been employed for one year or more; or is a farm worker or domestic worker who has been employed for more than six months. But, is a contractual notice period of use to the an employer? Yes, but its use is limited.

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Is an annual increase in wages a right?

Is an annual increase in wages a right? That is, does an employee have a right to an annual wage increase? The short answer is that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 does not make provision for minimum wages or wage increases, so there is no general duty an employer to give an annual increase. However, there can be certain exceptions. Read on for a brief explanation.

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Leave accrual – the first four months

Is an employee who leaves employment within the first four months entitled to be paid for annual leave accrued during that period? The short answer is: no. In the absence of any agreement or law to the contrary, an employee is only entitled to a leave pay-out if the employee has been employed for more than 4 months. Here is a brief explanation about why this is the case, based on the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

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May an employer change its policies?

An organisation's policy refers to the course of action it adopts or proposes. This policy then informs the way the business operates and how its employees are expected to behave. That said, is an employer allowed to change their policy without the prior agreement of their employees? Actually, yes. A policy may be changed without the agreement of employees, unless it involves a change to basic or agreed terms or conditions of employment. Read on a brief explanation on why this is the case.

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May an employer increase or decrease agreed working hours of its employees?

May an employer increase or decrease agreed working hours of its employees? Well, yes and no. An employer may not unilaterally change agreed terms or conditions of employment because increasing or decreasing the agreed total number of hours that an employee is required to work, is a change to conditions of employment and has to be negotiated and agreed. Agreed working hours may only be increased or decreased by agreement between the employer and their employees. Here's more information on why.

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Must a contract of employment be signed to be valid?

A contract of employment may not be signed for various reasons, one of the main reasons being that the employee simply refuses to sign the contract. So, this begs the question: How valid is a contract of employment that has not been signed? The short answer is that the validity of a contract of employment does not depend on whether the parties have signed it. A verbal contract may also be valid. Read on for a brief explanation.

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Overtime for senior managers?

Overtime is a concept that is very familiar to employees at various levels of an organisation. Often, the only upside to overtime is the financial compensation for hours worked. However, not everyone is eligible to be paid for their overtime. For example, may a manager be required to work overtime without receiving additional pay? The short answer is: Yes, but only if the manager can be regarded as a “senior managerial employee”, or if the manager earns in excess of the relevant threshold determined by the Minister of Labour. Here is a brief explanation on why this is.

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Sick leave during annual leave

If an employee falls ill or is injured while on annual leave, must the employee get paid sick leave? Or must the employee’s annual leave entitlement be extended? It is likely that most employers have had to ask themselves this question, but what is the actual answer? Well, the short answer is: No, the employee does not have a right to any additional pay, nor does the employee get extra leave days for the days on which he or she was ill. Read on for a brief explanation.

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Special dispensation for small businesses

Although small businesses are equally as subject to legislation as larger corporations. However, not all legislation is directly applicable to small businesses. As such, it's important to be aware of which legislation can be applied to your business. For example, does employment legislation accommodate the challenges faced by small businesses? Yes, certain provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) have been relaxed to accommodate small businesses, in particular employers who employ less than 10 employees. Read on for more information on this dispensation.

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The effect of sick leave on overtime pay

Financial compensation for overtime worked is a necessary condition of employment for most employees (except for senior managerial employees; sales staff who travel frequently and regulate their own hours of work; and employees who work less than 24 hours a month). So how does an employee’s absence due to illness affect overtime pay? Well, the on which an employee is remunerated may be affected if the employee’s actual working hours are reduced as a result of sick leave. Here's a more detailed explanation why this is.

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What is "Dereliction of Duty"?

The Collins Concise Dictionary defines ‘dereliction’ as “conscious or willful neglect” (especially of duty), whilst the Dictionary of English Synonyms lists the synonyms as ‘abandonment’ and ‘desertion’. Many employers, when charging an employee for some misdemeanour or another, use the incorrect terminology and the term “Dereliction of Duties” has great ominous and serious connotation to it.  Here are some examples of what the term "Dereliction of Duties" can actually mean in the work context.

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What is a "casual worker"?

As an established small business owner and employer, you may be wondering if the concept of a "casual worker" still exists. Well, the short answer is: No. There is no reference to "casual worker" in our current labour legislation. If you're a new business owner and don't know what a "casual worker" is, the old Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) of 1983 referred to “casual” workers as those who worked for three days or less per week. Here is a brief explanation of the concept and why it doesn't exist anymore.

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