Labour Relations Act - Amendments signed into law as at 17 August 2014

2014-08-18 09:32

The Presidency released a statement on 17 August 2014 that the President has signed the Labour Relations amendments into law on 17 August 2014, but what does  this mean for the average man or woman on the street?

The purpose of these amendments in nutshell is to:

  • Provide protection for vulnerable groups
  • Enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of labour institutions such as the CCMA and Labour Inspectorate to name a few
  • Allow for Labour Legislation to give effect to  fundamental constitutional rights
Some of these Amendments can be summarised as follows: The Enforcement of Arbitration Awards

Previously the process can be summarised as follows, that an application to certify the arbitration award is made( with proof that a copy of the Arbitration Award was forwarded to the other party). Once the Award is certified or made an order of the Labour Court and the other party still fails to comply with the award/order, the Applicant can request for the Registrar of the Labour Court to issue a Writ of Execution.

Once the Writ is issued, the Applicant may request of the Sheriff to attach property belonging to the other party and if necessary to sell in execution at the cost of the Applicant. Generally Applicants in this instance of Enforcing Awards are Employees and instead of having to have a Writ issued by the Labour Court before it can be enforced by the Sheriff, the forthcoming amendment would permit for an Award to be presented directly to the Deputy Sheriff for execution if payment is not made. The great advantage of this is this will allow for a shortened process for the employees when enforcing an Award, this would allow the Employee ( who are often times in a vulnerable position) to be able to be enforce an Award in their favour much quicker. Review Proceedings

Currently, the process of Review Applications requires for the Applicant to apply to the Labour Court for an order to set aside an Arbitration Award if a defect on part of the Arbitrating Commissioner is alleged. The Applicant must make this application within 6 weeks of the date the Arbitration Ruling was served on them. The review application papers must be served on all the interested individuals, e.g. other party, Commissioner who issued the Award, CCMA in the Province where the Award was issued.

There are currently no time limits within which a review must be heard and judgement delivered. Currently a review application does not suspend the operation of an Arbitration Award. This generally means that Employers have to bring an Application to stay(suspend) the execution of an Arbitration Award pending an application for review of the Award.

What the imminent amendment in this area proposes to  is that, it will allow for the Employer to provide the security, if this is done then the Award will be suspended. Where the Award/Order calls for re-instatement security equivalent to 24 months'  salary must be provided; if the award was for compensation, the amount awarded must be provided as security.

The Applicant must apply for hearing within 6 weeks  of bringing the Application and the Court must issue its judgement within 6 weeks of the last date of hearing.

These are but illustrations of the amendments which will be enforced in the interests of upholding constitutional rights.

It is thus advisable for Employers and Employees alike to familiarise themselves with these amendments in order to ensure that they will be able to advance their Employment rights should the need arise.

How these amendments will be enforced and whether  these amendments when enforced will be effective in advancing constitutional rights as initially envisaged by the Legislator  will only really be determined by time.

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