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27 June 2023

What Non-Profit Companies need to know about Labour Laws

Labour law is a crucial aspect of any organisation in South Africa, including non-profit companies (“NPCs”). South Africa has an unfortunate history of labour exploitation and the legislature has had to develop a comprehensive legal framework to protect the rights of employees and employers alike. This blog aims to provide an overview of the key aspects of labour law that NPC’s in South Africa need to understand and adhere to at all times.


Labour Legislation in South Africa

The Labour Relations Act (“LRA”) is the one of the Acts that form the cornerstone of South Africa’s labour legislation. It sets out the organisational rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, promotes collective bargaining, trade unions, and strikes, and further regulates the resolution of labour disputes (amongst many other things).

Other labour legislation, such as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (“BCEA”), informs and expands upon the LRA to ensure that both employees and employers adhere to all rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, the BCEA gives effect to the principle of fair labour practices. NPC’s, like other entities in South Africa, fall under the purview of the LRA, BCEA and other pieces of labour legislation, and must comply with their provisions at all times.

Employment Contracts and Conditions

NPC’s in South Africa must establish clear terms and conditions of employment. One way to do so effectively is to ensure that there are robust and comprehensive employment contracts in place between the organisation and its employees.

These contracts should include details such as remuneration, working hours, leave entitlements, job specifications and expectations, and any additional benefits. It is important to ensure that contracts comply with the minimum standards set by the BCEA. It is also important to note that the employer cannot contract out of the minimum standards set by the BCEA. Therefore, it is in their best interest to ensure that all terms and conditions are in line with the minimum entitlements.

Minimum Wage and Remuneration

All employers must pay a minimum wage to all employees, regardless of the nature of the organisation, as set by the National Minimum Wage Act (“NMWA”). NPC’s must ensure that they meet the minimum wage requirements and provide fair remuneration to their employees. It is crucial to stay updated with any changes in the minimum wage rates to maintain compliance.

One amendment that NPC’s should note here is that the Minister of Employment and Labour increased the minimum hourly wage amount from R23.19 to R25.42 per hour, effective from 1 March 2023.

Working Hours and Leave

NPC’s must adhere to the regulations regarding working hours and leave provisions. The BCEA stipulates the maximum number of working hours that an employee can work in a week. The employee and the employer may agree to reduce working hours, but they cannot increase them. If working hours are increased, it falls under the realm of overtime, which is regulated by the BCEA. Therefore, employers should be mindful of how the law regulates overtime.

In addition to the above, the BCEA also clearly regulates the employees’ entitlements to annual leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave, and the various forms of parental leave. Employers are legally required to provide the employee with the minimum amounts of prescribed leave entitlements as afforded in the BCEA. The parties may agree to increase these entitlements, but they cannot decrease them, even in an agreement between the parties.

Compliance with these provisions helps to protect the well-being of employees, and also protect the employer from unfair labour practice claims being made against them.

Employee Rights and Protection

The LRA guarantees certain fundamental rights for employees, including the right to fair labour practices, protection against unfair dismissal, and the right to join trade unions and engage in collective bargaining. An employer must regulate these through fair procedures. Failure to adhere to these fair procedures may expose the employer to possible claims brought against them by employees at the CCMA or labour court.

NPC’s must respect these rights and procedures. It is highly recommended that they create a conducive work environment and policies that uphold these procedures and rights as well as the dignity and well-being of employees.

Health and Safety Regulations

NPC’s have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in South Africa (“OHSA”). Compliance with health and safety regulations, such as conducting risk assessments, implementing safety measures, and providing necessary protective equipment and training, is essential. It is vital to prioritise the physical and mental well-being of employees.

Resolving Labour Disputes

Labour and employment disputes can arise in any organisation and NPC’s are not immune to these types of disputes. The LRA provides mechanisms and procedures for resolving such disputes through conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. Therefore it is essential for NPC’s to have effective dispute resolution mechanisms in place, such as grievance procedures or access to external mediation or arbitration services.

NPC’s should be familiar with these procedures and strive to address conflicts in a fair and timely manner. Seeking legal advice is highly recommended and beneficial when trying to resolve complex labour disputes.

Conclusion

Labour law is a vital aspect of running an NPC in South Africa. By understanding and complying with the relevant legislation, non-profit organizations can create a fair and conducive work environment for their employees while upholding the principles of social responsibility. By prioritizing the welfare and rights of their workers, non-profit companies can contribute to the overall well-being of their employees and the success of their mission. If you would like to better understand the labour laws of South Africa or need assistance with anything labour related, you can get in touch with us here at Legalese.

– Written by Rushni Ebrahim