THE Department of Labour says it welcomes the judgment by the Constitutional Court which provides clarity and certainty to an area that has been a matter for different interpretation of the law since the amendments to the Labour Relations Act (LRA) were promulgated in January 2015.
The intentions behind the amendments to the Labour Relations Act were to regulate temporary work and what is commonly referred to as labour broking.
The apex Court ruled that a worker placed by a labour broker at a company, becomes that company’s employee with no contractual ties to the labour broker after a period of three months.
The deeming provision seeks to protect vulnerable workers who earn below the stipulated threshold (Basic Conditions of Employment Act threshold of R205 433,30).
The amendments were aimed at introducing additional protections for vulnerable workers, that is, employees who earn on or below the threshold prescribed in section 6 (3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and to limit genuine temporary employment to a period of three months.
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The Department of Labour’s Director-General, Thobile Lamati, has thrown his weight behind the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Labour Relations Act (LRA) in so far as the controversial issue of labour broking is concerned.
“We feel that the Department has been vindicated in so far as the interpretation of provisions of the Labour Relations Act (LRA), which were inserted in the law to provide a legal framework to protect the most vulnerable workers,” he said.
Meanwhile, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said it was is celebrating the historic, ground-breaking judgement of the Constitutional Court that the correct interpretation of the Labour Relations Act means that a worker placed by a labour broker at a company, becomes that company’s employee after three months in a sole employment relationship.
“We have consistently held that employers have been using labour brokers to avoid having to comply with laws which safeguard workers’ rights and minimum conditions of employment. It has led to a form of human trafficking under which labour brokers hire out workers to their client companies, with no job security, lower wages and worse conditions. Unions must therefore be vigilant to ensure that this historic ruling is rigorously enforced and that labour brokers cannot find any way through the back door to continue exploiting workers,” said the Union.
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