9 Lockdown Labour Law Rights Every Employer Should Know

The COVID-19 pandemic and the extended lockdown have had a massive ripple effect on the livelihoods of millions of South Africans. As many employees in essential services continue to work, the government has forced non-essential businesses to shut their doors, leaving millions of jobs at risk. Things are so bad that since April that around 2 500 CCMA cases have opened.

Since President Cyril Ramaphosa implemented the national lockdown, there has been uncertainty and disorder. Many employees and employers are unclear of their rights, fuelling volatile employment relationships. As one of the top labour law consulting firms in South Africa, we have listed nine lockdown labour law rights that every employer and employee should know.

  1. No work, no pay principle – employers must compensate workers for their hours worked. But if they work zero hours, then employees have no legal claim to pay.
  2. Pension fund – an employer must pay to the fund any contribution for which it is liable. 
  3. Refusal of work – essential workers cannot refuse to work if they can do so.
  4. UIF – employees can apply for UIF, but this only covers a portion of their monthly salary.
  5. Remote working – if employees can work from home, they should do so.
  6. – employees are entitled to one week’s pay for every year worked at the company.
  • Salary cuts – employers may shorten the employee’s hours and consequently adjust their remuneration accordingly.
  • Temporary relief fund – the temporary relief fund will pay employees who earn more than R17 712* a month a maximum of R6 638,40*.
  • Worker’s compensation claims – essential workers that contract COVID-19 can claim from workers’ compensation under COIDA.

Our economy is in distress with many employers placed in a conundrum: should they let their employees go, and if not, how will they pay them? It is predicted that hundreds of South African businesses will shut their doors over the next month, which could see South Africa’s unemployment rate go up exponentially.

Although our government has overridden the BCEA to accommodate both parties as best as the government can, it is only natural that there will be uncertainties. While the BCEA will always remain binding, the government is well aware that there will be collateral damage and any unsettled disputes will reasonably need solving by court action soon after the lockdown ends.

At CHA Group, we help organisations of all sizes with their labour disputes. Whether you need a labour consultant for advice or guidance, or a labour law specialist to help you fight a CCMA hearing – we are the right labour law consultants to chat with. 

* The information is relevant at the time of publishing – May 2020.

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