Graham and Rhona Beck Skills Centre Blog

Graham and Rhona Beck Skills Centre Blog

Things to know about Labour law

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on Thursday, 29 May 2014 in Skills Centre Blog

Things to know about Labour law

Labour law is a part of our daily lives. But most people do not even know what it consist of or even their rights. Let’s start of by explain what labor law, it is defined as follow: Labour law (also labor law or employment law) mediates the relationship between workers (employees), employers, trade unions and the government. Collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Individual labour law concerns employees' rights at work and through the contract for work. Employment standards are social norms (in some cases also technical standards) for the minimum socially acceptable conditions under which employees or contractors are allowed to work.


In this article I would like to focus on Basic employment rights since it affects our daily lives.

Basic employment act applies to all employers and employees except for the following groups which are the members of the National Defense Force, National Intelligence Agency, South African Secret Service and unpaid volunteers working for charities.

The list that follows is the category which falls under the employment act:

1. WORKING TIME: This section does not apply to senior managers (those who can hire, discipline and fire), sales staff who travel and workers who work less than 24 hours a month.

a. Ordinary Hours of Work

· A worker must NOT work more than:

· 45 hours in any week.

· Nine hours a day if a worker works five days or less a week.

· Eight hours a day if a worker works more than five days a week.

b. Overtime

If overtime is needed, workers must agree to do it and they may not work for more than three hours overtime a day or ten hours overtime a week.

Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the workers' normal pay or, by agreement, get paid time off.

More flexibility of working time can be negotiated if there is a collective agreement with a registered trade union. For example, this can allow more flexible hours for working mothers and migrant workers.

c. Meal Breaks and Rest Periods

A worker must have a meal break of 60 minutes after five hours' work. But a written agreement may lower this to 30 minutes and do away with the meal break if the worker works less than six hours a day.

A worker must have a daily rest period of 12 continuous hours and a weekly rest period of 36 continuous hours, which, unless otherwise agreed, must include Sunday.

d. Sunday Work

e. A worker who sometimes works on a Sunday must get double pay. A worker who normally works on a Sunday must be paid at 1.5 times the normal wage. There may be an agreement for paid time off instead of overtime pay.

f. Night Work

Night work is unhealthy and can lead to accidents. That is, workers working between 18:00 at night and 06:00 in the morning must get extra pay or be able to work fewer hours for the same amount of money.

Workers who usually work between 23:00 at night and 06:00 in the morning must be told of the health and safety risks. They are entitled to regular medical check-ups, paid for by the employer. They must be moved to a day shift if night work develops into a health problem. All medical examinations must be kept confidential.

g. Public Holidays

Workers must be paid for any public holiday that falls on a working day. Work on a public holiday is by agreement and paid at double the rate. A public holiday is exchangeable by agreement.



a. Annual Leave

A worker can take up to 21 continuous days' annual leave or by agreement, one day for every 17 days worked or one hour for every 17 hours worked. Leave must be taken not later than six months after the end of the leave cycle. An employer can only pay a worker instead of giving leave if that worker leaves the job.

b. Sick Leave

A worker can take up to six weeks' paid sick leave during a 36-month cycle.

During the first six months, a worker can take one day's paid sick leave for every 26 days worked. An employer may want a medical certificate before paying a worker who is sick for more than two days at a time or more than twice in eight weeks.

c. Maternity Leave

A pregnant worker can take up to four continuous months of maternity leave. She can start leave any time from four weeks before the expected date of birth OR on a date a doctor or midwife says is necessary for her health or that of her unborn child. She also may not work for six weeks after the birth of her child unless declared fit to do so by a doctor or midwife.



a. Job Information

Employers must give new workers information about their job and working conditions in writing. This includes a description of any relevant council or sectoral determination and a list of any other related documents.

b. Payslip Information

· Each payslip must include:

· Employer's name and address.

· Worker's name and job.

· Period of payment.

· Worker's pay.

· Amount and purpose of any deduction made from the pay.

· Actual amount paid to the worker.


a. Notice

A worker or employer must give notice to end an employment contract of not less than:


§ One week, if employed for six months or less.

§ Two weeks, if employed for more than six months but not more than one year.

§ Four weeks, if employed for one year or more.

§ Notice must be in writing except from a worker who cannot write.


Workers who stay in employer's accommodation must be given one month's notice of termination of the contract or be given alternative accommodation until the contract is lawfully terminated. An employer giving notice does not stop a worker from challenging the dismissal in terms of the Labor Relations Act or any other law.

As listed above it is apparent that labor law is vast and varied. Employment act is just a small part of labor law; labor law has many more subcategories which cover our rights and regulations in the work environment. Here is a law case about wages and strikes to get a better feel on how law uits are settled concerning our rights as employees and employers. Benhause North West (Pty) Ltd v National Union of Mineworkers and Others (J 2436/07) [2010] ZALC 283 (1 January 2010)


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