What is the labour law in SA?


Employment protection legislations apply to all employees who ordinarily work regardless of the stated governing law of any employment contract or the nationalities of either the employee or the employer. 

It mediates the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade unions and the government. It’s a pivotal piece of legislation, as it recognises the need for fast and easy access to justice in labour disputes.  

South Africa has three main labour laws, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act, and the Employment Equity Act. Ensuring that the proper procedures are followed like the reason for termination of employment is fair and the correct payment of wages and leave days are made. 

Over time labour laws have constantly changed as the South African government seeks to balance stronger protections for employees with the need to create a business-friendly investment climate. 

Laws such as the Unemployment Insurance Act which clarifies that foreign national employees and learners employed on a learnership agreement are eligible to claim benefits. 

The Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act made changes for foreign national employees and people on a learnership to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The changes to the Contributions Act took effect from March 2018. 

While there’s also been an Extended parental leave for parents and inclusion of leave for adoptive parents and parents working with a surrogate. 

Then there are laws which are currently being considered by parliament. These laws are expected to change the space of labour laws since 1995 after the country’s first democratic elections.  

Like the right to strike. Through the amendments of the Labour Relations Act to introduce measures which, although designed to minimise violent strikes, would, in fact, discourage strikes in general. For example, the amendments would require trade unions to hold secret ballots to decide on strikes.  

And the much-criticised Minimum Wage Act, which President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed into law. The new Act will see the minimum hourly rate for workers set at R20 and will come into effect on 1 January 2019.


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