What SA labour law says for businesses not fully operational after riot damage
- Labour law expert suggests ways businesses can take care of staff while not being able to operate at full capacity
- Employers and employees need to come to agreements about the way forward
- Some sectors have bargaining councils with agreements already in place regarding lay-offs
- One option would be for employees to take annual leave while companies wait for insurance claims to be paid out so that businesses may resume
As looting and civil unrest continues to spread across South Africa, many businesses have had to close operations out of fear of attacks and to ensure the safety of their employees.
Many staff members have also been unable to reach work premises as protestors disrupt entries and exits from communities.
Where does this leave already cash-strapped businesses that may need to temporarily close? And staff who fear for their safety in getting to work?
Employment law expert Phetheni Nkuna at commercial law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr examines the impact of this sort of action on employees and explores what recourse is available to an employer who is forced to unexpectedly close its doors.
What options are available to employers when they have had to close their doors unexpectedly?
She suggests ways businesses can operate while not at full capacity and still take care of staff.
Lots of businesses have lodged insurance claims and don't know what the outcome will be.Phetheni Nkuna, Director of Employee Practice -Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
Insurance claims also take a while to be paid out, she notes.
We anticipate that it is going to take a long time and in that instance, there is also an option of having employees take their annual leave credit under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.Phetheni Nkuna, Director of Employee Practice -Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
Temporary lay-offs cannot be done unilaterally but have to be done through agreement, she says.
It is either agreed on at this stage or in certain sectors you have bargaining councils that already have collective agreements which provide for a lay-off. So an employer can tap into that arguing the circumstances are beyond their control.Phetheni Nkuna, Director of Employee Practice -Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
Safety during a time such as this is important, she adds.
Many employees are providing transport for staff to ensure their safety.Phetheni Nkuna, Director of Employee Practice -Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr
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