Five Rights of Employees in South Africa

Updated on 10 July 2024

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employee rights in South Africa

Having employees is the mark of a growing business. Being able to afford to pay people means your business is growing and you are on the right track. However, when hiring people, you must be aware of the rights of employees in South Africa.

Employee rights are the legal entitlement that an employee has. They are designed to ensure that there is fair treatment, safe working conditions, and respect for the employees’ dignity and well-being.

By knowing the rights of your employees, you will be able to make sure your employees are working in an environment that is productive for them. This will ensure that your employees are happy at work and as productive as possible.

In this article, we will take you through five employee rights in South Africa. This is to help guide you in your journey to adding (and keeping) employees to your business.

1. Dismissal and the Employee’s Right

When you draft a contract for an employee, you state their duties and if for a fixed term you will outline the job period. Employees are very protected when it comes to dismissal. You can not dismiss someone just because you don’t like them personally. There must be valid grounds for dismissal such as theft or fraud.

Ensure you are aware of employee dismissal rights. If you want to terminate someone’s employment, you must provide them with the necessary notice as outlined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

2. Night Work

If you need your employee to work after hours (after 18:00) or early in the morning (before 06:00), there are certain things you need to provide. According to section 17 of the BCEA, if you want your employees to do night work, you need to provide transportation and you need to compensate them accordingly.

You can only ask an employee to do ‘night work’ if it is agreed upon beforehand. You also must inform your employee beforehand if there are health and safety hazards, they need to be aware of before doing their overtime.

3. Employees’ Right to Minimum Wage

All employees have a right to be paid minimum wage. The current minimum wage in South Africa is R 27,58. This is only a benchmark for low-wage workers, however, you can pay your employees more.

Also remember that for extra work or night shifts, you may need to pay your employees more. If you do not pay your employees minimum wage, they have a right to report you to unions or the Department of Employment and Labour.

4. Health and Safety is a Right for Employees

All employees have a right to a workplace that is safe. The Occupational Health and Safety Act has sections that outline what health and safety measures need to be put in place for all employees. This ranges from the work environment to the use of plants and machinery.

As an employer, you must ensure that the workplace is free of dangerous substances and dangerous articles like equipment and processes. If you do not follow this, you will expose your employees to hazardous chemicals, or they may suffer from injuries or diseases.

5. Employees Have a Right to Leave

According to the BCEA, all employees have a right to take leave from work. The Act outlines that employees have the following leave rights:

  • Paid leave is no less than 21 consecutive days per completed year of employment. It can also be calculated as 1 day for 17 days worked or 1 hour for 17 hours worked. Employees are entitled to full pay during leave.
  • Sick leave is no less than 30 days for every 36 months worked. Employees have a right to full pay even on sick leave.
  • Family responsibility leave is equal to 3 days of paid leave during each 12-month leave period.

Leave is different from a sick day. If an employee has a sick day, you are allowed to ask them for a doctor’s note when they return. You may not require a doctor’s note if an employee takes leave as they would have gotten approval from HR to take leave.

It is essential that you know ALL employee rights. It will help you ensure that your employees are happy and excited about coming to work. Make sure the workplace is safe and that you are considerate when your employees are asking for time off.

And make sure you pay them enough and that you pay them on time!

For more tips on how to run your business, take a look at our comprehensive guides.

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