Five Employer Rights in South Africa

Updated on 4 July 2024

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Employer Rights

The South African Labour law exists to ensure that both employers and employees have a clear understanding of what one expects of the other. It protects them both, but it also lists basic rights that ensure a fair, reasonable and safe working environment. Today we will be looking at what is expected from business owners from an employer’s rights in South Africa perspective.

When it comes to an employer’s rights, the law balances an employer’s responsibility in the workplace with the needs of workers. At the end of the day, the law ensures that both parties’ interests are considered so individuals can have a good working relationship.

Employer rights in South Africa, or labour law as many commonly refer to it, is laid out in the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995. Since it was instated, there have been multiple amendments to keep up with developments and protect workers and employers across industries. It is quite extensive, but for this article, we will only focus on five responsibilities and rights of employers.

1. Employer’s Right to Determine Job Roles

In South Africa, employers have the right to hire and dismiss (within reason) who they hire for specified job roles. However, business owners who are hiring their own employees need to ensure that they don’t hire or exclude any candidate based on their age, race, gender, disability or any other protected category. That’s why it is useful to establish requirements and criteria for prospective employees before posting a job advertisement.

Furthermore, employers are free to decide what the description of job roles are, as well as the responsibilities and duties of each hire.

2. Employers Have the Right to Establish Policies and Procedures

Every employer has the right to create and implement policies and procedures in their own businesses. This means that entrepreneurs can also expect employees to follow these basic rules and perform accordingly.

The policies and procedures that an employer implements can relate to ethical behaviour, leave policies, pay, pay for performance, customer interactions and general conduct.

Where necessary, employers can outline a dress code that includes grooming standards. Workplaces that have dress codes usually do so to either promote safety (safety gear such as hard hats and safety boots) or to align the professional expectations of client-facing employees when they interact with customers.

3. Employers are Responsible for Providing Employees with Equipment and Has the Right to Monitor its Use

When an employee is hired, these individuals are often issued equipment that will help them do their job. This could be equipment such as laptops, other electronics or cell phones. According to law, the equipment still belongs to the employer and it is the responsibility of the employee to take care of it. However, to ensure that it is used solely for the purpose it was intended for, employers have the right to monitor its use. On company networks, browsing history can be accessed and site access can be restricted.

4. Expect Honesty and Working Towards Objectives are Also an Employer’s Right

Because employees are hired with the expectation to complete certain tasks and take charge of certain duties, employers have the right to expect them to conduct their work with honesty. They may also expect employees to strive towards reaching company goals.

Honestly working entails conducting themselves ethically and being transparent in their tasks. Furthermore, striving towards objectives means that employees should also understand that they are contributing to the overall success of the business.

5. Right to Act Responsibly and Keep Record

Whether an employer is a business owner or multiple co-owners, becoming an employer has many responsibilities as set out by the law. Employers have the right to remain on the right side of the law. How, you may ask? By meeting the basic requirements that the law has set up for work conditions according to each industry.

To show that you are compliant with the necessary laws, employers need to keep good records. This includes records of employee contracts, salary payments, tax compliance and so on. Furthermore, when it comes to the employee-employer relationship, records need to be kept with regard to any performance issues, promotions or disputes that have occurred.

Following the Labour Act doesn’t have to feel like only the rights of the employee are considered. Empowered with this information, every employer can now understand what some of their rights are.

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