Guide to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act

Sometimes, getting and keeping a job feels so difficult, that we forget that we have rights within the workplace. Luckily, the law is here to help make workplaces FAIR FOR ALL.

SOMETIMES, GETTING AND KEEPING A JOB FEELS SO DIFFICULT, THAT WE FORGET THAT WE HAVE RIGHTS WITHIN THE WORKPLACE. LUCKILY, THE LAW IS HERE TO HELP MAKE WORKPLACES FAIR FOR ALL.

PROTECTING RIGHTS FOR YOU AND THE COMPANY

When it comes to protecting your rights: no matter how nice or nasty your boss might be – the truth is that the real boss of you is the LAW.

The law is there to protect you. However, the law is also there to make sure that as an employee (worker), you act in a way that is honest and reasonable to your company and employer (boss).

One of the most important pieces of legislation (group of laws) is called the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

BCEA: OVERVIEW

The BCEA gives regulations about different workplace issues.

Regulations can be seen almost like rules.

However, the rules in the BCEA can be understood and applied in various ways according to the kind of work you do.

This means you will always need to speak to a Legal and Tax lawyer to check the specifics as to how the BCEA is applied to your sector (kind) of work.

BCEA: KEY REGULATIONS

Here are some of the key areas with which the BCEA deals:

Work contracts and personal information

From the time you are interviewed for a job, the BCEA makes sure that you have your rights protected.

  • It explains what kind of information you as an employee have to, or do not have to, give your employer.
  • It explains what kind of information your employer has to give you, about the details of your job.
  • It also explains what information your contract needs to contain in order for it to be legally valid (correct according to the law).

Hours of Work

  • It rules on how many hours of ordinary work and overtime you can be legally made to do.
  • It indicates what kind of meal intervals, like tea or lunch breaks, you must be given.
  • It explains what happens if you work on Sundays, public holidays or at night.

Salaries and wages

  • It explains how, when and where you must get paid.
  • It also explains for what reasons your employer might deduct (take away) from your salary.
  • It explains how bonuses must work.
  • It also indicates how overtime payments must work.

Leave

It rules on the minimum (the least) number of days off of work that must be given for:

  • annual leave – general leave for holidays
  • sick leave - there are specific rules on when you need to present medical certificates.
  • maternity leave - Note new laws for paternity leave (for fathers) are busy being finalised.
  • family responsibility leave - when there is some kind of emergency or death in your close family.
  • unpaid leave – when you need time off but will not get paid a salary during this time
  • study leave

It also explains what kind of time off/assistance you must be given if you are injured at work, as well as what proof you need to provide for this injury.

Workplace discipline

If something has gone wrong at your work such as your having broken certain rules of the job, this means the employer has a right to take certain disciplinary measures(actions of punishment) against you.

If you are proven to have broken the rules, this could lead to your dismissal (being fired).
However, the BCEA wants to make sure that if you are facing workplace discipline, this is fair.

  • The law details fair reasons for what can be considered misconduct (incorrect behavior).
  • The law states that the disciplinary processes (actions) must be carried out in a fair way.
  • It explain what different kinds of actions can be carried out in these situations:
    • disciplinary hearing –This is when evidence can be brought both against you and in your defence. A person or group of people will decide if you have or haven’t done something wrong. They will then suggest what the next actions in this case should be.
    • A case taken to the The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or to the bargaining councils – There are organisations that help when there are problems between employers and their workers.
    • The Labour Court – A legal court where judges and lawyers will deal with possible workplace crimes.

Leaving your job or getting fired

If you choose to leave your job or you are fired or retrenched (told to leave your work) both you and your employer have rights.

The BCEA gives rules on the following:

  • Notice of Termination of Employment: These are rules about how to tell your employer that you are leaving your job and what duties to complete before you can leave.
  • It also explains how your employer has to inform (tell) you in a particular way that you have been fired or retrenched.
    • they might have to speak to you in a language you understand.
    • or they might have to write down that you are fired it in a letter in order to be official (valid).
  • It deals with severance pay - what money you might get if you are told to leave your job.
  • It also explains what the rules are if you are paid to leave immediately rather than given notice (time you will still be made to work before your leave your job).

Sectoral determination:

This term refers to when different kinds of work have their own rules/ laws.

  • If, for example, you work as a truck driver or in the metal industry, the different kind of work you do, will mean that you need to be protected from different kinds of problems.
  • This means that you have groups of people, such as a trade union and/or bargaining council, who will negotiate (discuss) your workplace conditions with employers on your behalf.
  • As such, the BCEA allows for specific rules to apply ONLY to your type of work.

You will need to contact one of Legal & Tax’s lawyers to help you understand what particular rights and legal protection your sector of work has been given.

GET FURTHER HELP

If you are having problems in any of these areas, contact one of Legal & Tax’s lawyers and they will help you protect yourself using the laws like the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

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