The rights of an employee or employer come from many sources and one of the main sources as with many other laws come from Common law.
South Africa’s Common law is a mixture of Roman-Dutch law and English law. These sources have in turn been formalised by Legislation like the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relationship Act and others.
However, as times have changed so have our laws and with the many amendments to the Labour Relations Act as well as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act employers and employees may become confused on what are their most pivotal duties and rights are in respect of employment.
Here are some tips for you:
The Employee’s Duties:
- Services: An employee must make his/her services available to the employer within an agreed period of time. The actual services rendered will often be specifically described within the employment contract and the job specifications and requirements, however, oftentimes an employee’s services will include those duties that aren’t specifically described but are within the best interest of the business.
- Competence: An employee must act in accordance with their skills for which they were hired for. When undertaking to exercise that skill, an employee must do so with due diligence, and if not, that employee will be considered incompetent for the job.
- Good Faith: So much of the employer-employee relationship is based on the moral character of the employee. That relationship is built on honesty and moral conduct. An employee must act in accordance with what is in the best interests of the business instead of that of his/her own interests and for that reason misappropriation, misconduct and dishonesty cannot be tolerated.
- Subordination: This is an employee’s obligation to obey the employer’s commands. These commands, however, must be lawful and morally sound. An employee shouldn’t accept an order that makes him/her go against their moral character.
The Employers Duties:
- Remuneration: As discussed above, an employee will provide the employer with services in exchange for remuneration. This give and take relationship will continue in accordance with the employment contract and only in very rare circumstances will remuneration be withheld which will usually be due to a breach of the employment contract. However, even after summarily dismissing an employee an employer needs to follow the correct procedure according to the Code of Good Practice, Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.
- Safe Working Environment: An employer must provide a reasonably safe working environment for his/her employees and according to Common law, the employer is delictually liable for any damages and injuries of an on-site or work-related accident.
- Provisions for Leave: According to the Labour Relations Act as well as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act an employer must grant his/her employee with vocational leave, family responsibility leave and sick leave (this will, however, vary from contract to contract between the parties).
An employment contract is an agreement between two parties (employer and employee) who hold themselves liable for the obligations as discussed, described and agreed to within that contract or agreement.
For more advice on your rights and obligations and any other labour related query contact our offices today at Charmaine@schwenninc.co.za or call us on 031 003 0630.