Outline of Your Legal Rights as a Worker:
These user-friendly guides outline the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (1997), which establishes the labour rights of employees and the duties and responsibilities of employers; Chapter 2 of the Labour Relations Act (1995) which establishes the rights of workers to belong to trade unions, workplace forums and federations of trade unions; and the Employment Equity Act (1998) which outlines what employers should be doing to create equitable working conditions and equitable employment opportunity. If you feel that you have been subjected to violations of these rights by your employer, or are experiencing discrimination in the work place, contact PASSOP: 021 762 0322
This guide outlines the recommendations in the Labour Relations Act of 1995 and its relevant ammendments on the Code of Good Practice for Dismissals helping you to further understand your rights and the responsibilities of your employer(s) regarding disciplinary proceedings brought against you, and grounds for dismissal.
WHO CAN WORK IN SOUTH AFRICA?
o Children below the age of 15 years may not work. It is against the law to employee children.
o Children between the ages of 15 and 18 may not perform work that places their well-being, education, or physical and mental health at risk.
o No one may force employees to work (for example, an employee was unfairly dismissed and was also not paid leave pay). This is a criminal offence.
DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE
There can be no discrimination in the workplace, as outlined in the Employment Equity Act (1998) based on race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic origin, social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, birth, family responsibility, HIV status, or political opinion. None of these characteristics are legal grounds to demote or not promote an employee, to block an employee from having access to training, or to make an unfair distribution of employee benefits to the employee.
SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE
The employer must make sure that the workplace is safe and healthy, and must not allow any employee to do work which is potentially dangerous. The employee must know what the dangers of the work are. The general duties of the employer are to:
- choose safety representatives
- consult with the employees’ trade union about the safety representatives
- inform employees of the dangers in the workplace
- reduce any dangers to a minimum before issuing protective clothing
- issue protective clothing where necessary
- give necessary training to employees who use dangerous machines or materials, to make sure they know the safety precautions
- prevent employees from using or working with dangerous materials or machines, unless all the necessary safety rules have been followed
- ensure that dangerous machines are in good working order and are safe to work with
- make sure that dangerous machines carry warnings and notices
- make sure that someone who knows the work is supervising the operations to ensure the safety of the employees
- keep the workplace open so that employees can escape from danger if necessary
- not move any evidence of an accident before an inspector has given permission, unless someone has been badly injured and needs treatment
The Chief Inspector can ask any employer for a report of the safety precautions. An employer cannot take action against any workers who do the following:
- give information about their conditions at work or that the Act says they have to give
- give evidence in court
- respond to any request of an inspector
- refuse to do anything that is against the law
The employer must keep a report of all accidents and safety or health incidents in the workplace. The employer must report certain accidents or incidents to the safety representative and to the Department of Labour.
The employer must appoint one safety representative for every 20 employees. There must be at least one representative for every 50 employees. The employer must explain to the employees’ organisation what responsibilities the safety representatives will have and how the representatives will be selected.
In every workplace where there are two or more safety representatives there must also be a safety committee. This committee must meet at least every three months. The committee must deal with all safety and health issues that affect employees. The safety committees have certain functions and powers. You can find out more about these in the Act or by contacting the Department of Labour.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
Everyone has a right to a safe working environment which includes not being harassed. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual conduct. The conduct can also be victimization where a person gets victimized for failing to respond to sexual advances and the intention is to humiliate him or her; or sexual favouritism – ‘rewards’ for sex.
Conduct involving sexual harassment should be reported to the employer as soon as is reasonably possible and without delay. The employer must consult the parties, take steps to address the complaint, and take steps to stop the sexual harassment. We have created a user-friendly guide that walks you through this process.