South Africa has a complex labour environment, and depending on the industry a business operates in or the specific operational needs of the business, the laws applicable may differ.
This landscape can become immensely complex to navigate, which is exacerbated further when it comes to flexible or part-time work, temporary or contract employment. Without a solid understanding of the laws and how they apply, a business risks serious financial implication as a result of either non-compliance or potentially bad decisions.
A Temporary Employment Service (TES) provider can assist businesses by ensuring that their temporary and contract employment services are provided for in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
They can also advise businesses through supplying alternative solutions to traditional work methods. This prevents non-compliance and ensures optimised flexible and targeted production solutions, which allows a business to focus on its core business rather than expending excess effort on Human Resource (HR) related issues.
The South African labour law environment
South Africa has many laws governing labour, including the Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act.
In addition, certain industries have specific conditions of employment, determined by bargaining council agreements or sectoral determinations.
Non-permanent (part-time, temporary and contract workers) and permanent employees are classified differently in the BCEA, COIDA, LRA, UIF and other labour laws.
In addition, all employers must adhere to the National Minimum Wage Act, however certain industries, such as the metal and engineering sectors, have prescribed wages for different categories of workers due to the skill or specialisation that their job requires.
Wage adjustments and bonuses are also topics often addressed by industry-specific legislation, such as the previously mentioned bargaining council agreements or sectoral determinations.
Understanding the framework is key, but complex
Businesses need to understand the labour laws that apply to avoid significant financial implications as a result of non-compliance or taking unnecessary and uninformed decisions that can be financially crippling.
Lack of knowledge or understanding is not a viable excuse in the eyes of the law. The specific penalty for non-compliance will vary depending on the transgression, but it could mean payment of up to two years wages to an employee or even business owners facing jail time.
When it comes to navigating the labour labyrinth, unions can be a make or break factor. Depending on the relationship a business has with them, a union can either be managed and law abiding or can rule and destroy the workplace stability.
It is essential to work with relevant unions to build relationships that will ensure you can work together to resolve any issues that arise. Furthermore, a well-balanced collective bargaining structure can be hugely beneficial to business and the economy as a whole.
Misinterpreting the laws could be a costly problem
Failure to correctly interpret and apply laws could result in financial and punitive damages. Courts are seldom lenient on those who fail to comply or those who fail to understand the true essence of the law.
It is therefore critical to stay up to date with current legislation. Using a TES provider can help to ease some of the burden, specifically when it comes to temporary or contract-based employees.
To reduce the risks of misinterpretation and non-compliance it is essential to make use of the services of experts in the field. As a professional employment services provider, a TES provider must keep up to date and fully understand applicable legislation.
Legal expertise is part and parcel of the service delivered; therefore, they will take on the burden of interpretation of the law. This absorbs some of the pressure and enables businesses to focus on their core competencies rather than being bogged down in the complexities of employment.
Finding the right TES provider
People and people management are the core functions of a TES provider. Your TES provider should employ experts across all aspects of employment services to ensure that as a client you receive optimal support for your business.
It is also important to ensure that the TES provider is registered, experienced and well-established. A TES provider takes care of one of your most important resources.
It is essential to ensure that you select the right partner to work with your business to help you navigate the complex labour environment.