The way businesses deal with fixed term contract and labour brokers will change how they operate in South Africa when the suite of amendments to employment legislations is enacted, most likely to be in the second quarter of this year.
This is according to Aadil Patel, Director and National Employment Practice Head at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, who says that businesses should not be waiting for the amendments to be enacted before making strategic decisions regarding the effects of the legislation on their operations.
“Businesses should be auditing their fixed term employees and labour broker numbers, preparing strategic position papers and meeting with their HR committees on how they will regulate their fixed term employees and labour broking employees in future. If they don’t start doing this now, they will be caught short once amendments are enacted,” he notes.
On 17 December 2010, the Department of Labour announced the publication of the following four new Bills: the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and the Employment Services Bill. The Labour Relations Amendment Bill essentially proposes to stop the practice of repeated contracting with employees for short-term periods and to place an onus on employers to justify the use of short term contracts of employment. It further repeals section 198, which deals with Temporary Employment Services and introduces a new definition of “employer” and “employee”.
“Businesses need to make strategic decisions now as to how they formulate the contracts of fixed term employees and if they will use labour brokers or not. With regards to the regulation of labour brokers, the Bill seeks to ensure that those sections of persons who render services regarded as most vulnerable have some degree of protection and are treated equitably and does not propose a ban on brokers.
“Those who want to continue to use fixed term employees will have to prepare their contracts on either a project basis or for a period of time. The onus will be on the employers to show they no longer need fixed term employers after a time has lapsed. In the past, fixed term employees had to prove they were let go unfairly, so there will be a shift of responsibility in this regard,’ says Patel.
“The issues in the Bill have been hotly contested since it first published in December 2010 and this has contributed to holding up its enactment it. However, it looks like the Bill will be enacted in the second quarter of this year – almost two years down the line. Businesses can no longer put off preparing for the changes,” Patel adds.