Employment and Labour Law

/Employment and Labour Law

Our Brave New World: Using Zoom for Retrenchment Consultations

“O brave new world” (Shakespeare) The COVID-19 pandemic will doubtless lead to many new developments on the legal front. For example, with widespread employee retrenchment now an unfortunate reality in our struggling economy, all employers, employees and trade unions should know of an important new Labour Court decision validating the use of remote conferencing for the retrenchment consultation process.  The consultation process, rudely interrupted An employer decided in January 2020 that it needed to restructure its business operations, which prompted it to contemplate dismissal

Unemployed, Can’t Pay Bond and Credit Instalments? “Credit Life Insurance” May Save You

If you are one of the many employees retrenched or put on short pay or unpaid leave as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown, you will be wondering how to cover the monthly instalments on your mortgage bond and other credit agreements. You have no doubt heard of the “payment holidays” banks are offering, but remember that although these are a lot better than losing your house, car etc, they are no free lunch. Interest and fees will

COVID-19: Small Businesses, Employment Laws, and Survival Support

“The secret of crisis management is not good vs. bad, it’s preventing the bad from getting worse” (Andy Gilman) We can only guess at how the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak will end, but let’s all take whatever concrete steps we can right now to lessen its impact on our personal lives, on our businesses, and on our country.  One of those steps is for businesses to find ways of continuing to operate as normally as possible, given of course the exceptional times we

How to Stop an Ex-Director from Competing With You

“…the default position is that an executive director or a senior employee may not carry on business activities which fall within the scope of his company’s business during the time when he serves as director or works as employee.  The default position however changes on resignation.” (Extract from judgment below) What happens if relations between you and your fellow company directors sour to the extent that a director leaves? Can he or she immediately open up a new business in direct

How to Stop an Ex-Director from Competing With You

“…the default position is that an executive director or a senior employee may not carry on business activities which fall within the scope of his company’s business during the time when he serves as director or works as employee.  The default position however changes on resignation.” (Extract from judgment below) What happens if relations between you and your fellow company directors sour to the extent that a director leaves? Can he or she immediately open up a new business in direct

Employees: Your New Rights to Paternity and Parental Leave

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one” (Psychologist Leo J Burke) It has taken over a year of confusion and delay around when new changes will be implemented, but finally your extended rights to parental leave and to an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) claim have fully commence. Here’s an update/refresher – New mothers are still entitled to 4 consecutive months’ maternity leave.New “parents” (which would include fathers and same-sex partners) are entitled to 10 consecutive days’ “parental leave”.An

Employees on Probation: Can You Dismiss for Poor Performance?

“… arbitrators should hesitate to interfere with employer’s decisions on whether probationary employees have attained the required performance standard, or with the standards themselves” (extract from judgment below) Our laws allow employers to hire new employees on a probationary basis, and doing so can give both parties time to assess how good the “fit” actually is and whether the employee should become a permanent one. Employers must however avoid falling into the trap of thinking that they can dismiss a probationary employee

What is Poor Work Performance? A Case of Missed Sales Targets

“…the employer has a duty to investigate all possible alternatives short of dismissal, and this duty accords with the onus of proving the fairness of the dismissal” (extract from judgment below) An employee who fails to perform adequately at work is by definition not fulfilling his or her side of the employment bargain, but that doesn’t mean that dismissal is necessarily an appropriate remedy. Guidelines for dismissal The onus is on you as employer to prove that the dismissal was fair, and the

Employers: What is Your Duty to Accommodate Religious Beliefs?

“The employer has a duty to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious freedom unless it is impossible to do so without causing itself undue hardship. It is not enough that it may have a legitimate commercial rationale. The duty of reasonable accommodation imposed on the employer is one of modification or adjustment to a job or the working environment that will enable an employee operating under the constraining tenets of her religion to continue to participate or advance in employment” (Extract

Equal Pay for Equal Work – Can You Differentiate Without Unfairly Discriminating?

“Prohibition of unfair discrimination: No person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, birth or on any other arbitrary ground” (from the Employment Equity Act) Our employment laws and labour courts come down heavily on any unfair discrimination in the workplace,