Know your rights in the workplace

2013-09-17 00:00

I HAVE recently been exposed to an arbitration matter and from this I’ve learnt that the most important factor in the workplace is an employer and employee relationship. If this relationship is broken down the employee and employer are unable to work as efficiently and effectively as they should. The employment relationship is the legal link between employers and employees. It exists when a person performs work or services under certain conditions in return for remuneration.

It is through the employment relationship, however defined, that reciprocal rights and obligations are created between the employee and the employer. It has been, and continues to be, the main vehicle through which workers gain access to the rights and benefits associated with employment in the areas of labour law and social security.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No. 75 of 1997), employees have the following rights:

• not to be unfairly dismissed or discriminated against;

• to be provided with appropriate resources and equipment;

• to have safe working conditions;

• to receive the agreed remuneration on the agreed date and time;

• to receive fair labour practices;

• to be treated with dignity and respect;

• to non-victimisation in claiming rights and using procedures;

• to leave benefits and other basic conditions of employment as stipulated in the BCEA.

If you as an employee are subject to a dispute in the workplace, you may refer the dispute in writing to:

1. A council, if the parties to the dispute fall within the registered scope of that council;

2. The CCMA, if no council has jurisdiction.

3. The party who refers a dispute must satisfy the council or the CCMA that a copy of the referral has been served on all the other parties to the dispute.

4. The council or the CCMA must attempt to resolve a dispute through conciliation.

5. If a dispute remains unresolved, any party to the dispute may refer it to the Labour Court for adjudication.

The goal in a workplace is for everyone to be happy, this can be achieved if the employee-employer relationship is kept strong. However, employers and employees have remedies at their disposal should a breakdown occur.

• Serisha Mewa is a professional assistant to Claudia Garella, who is the founder of Garella Attorneys.

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