KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2017
Protection of Personal Information Act
The enactment of the Protection of Personal Information Act (“POPI”) and developments in data protection law are expected to continue to affect the way organizations and companies conduct their businesses.
POPI intends to give effect to the constitutional right to privacy by introducing measures and obligations upon employers, and granting rights to employees with a view to striking a balance between the right of employers to conduct a business on the one hand, against the rights of its employees to privacy on the other.
Limited sections of POPI have already been brought into force, with the majority (including the sections which create compliance obligations) to take effect at a later date. Once the legislation takes full effect, there will be a one year transition period for employers to ensure compliance, but it this is likely to be insufficient in many cases. Businesses should start to consider what steps and how long it is likely to take to take to comply, to ensure compliance within the prescribed period.
Establishment of a new labour federation
The plans to establish a new trade union federation are well under way, and its first campaign will focus on organising workers in the formal and informal sectors, and fighting job losses.
While 57 unions have expressed interest in joining the new federation, the report said 31 unions were represented in a meeting to discuss the way forward. The new federation remains open to other unions and members who want to join, and its attempts to unionise informal sector workers (such as recyclers and home workers) would be a crucial step forward for the labour movement.
The proposed new federation (incorporating breakaway Cosatu unions and those independent of it) has been in the pipeline since the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (“Numsa”) at end of 2014. The union will be strictly unaligned politically, as a result of growing concerns of disaffection over political parties.
SA faces first long period of salary decline
South Africa has seen a plateaued and steady salary decline, which supports the growing sentiment that salaries are unlikely to beat inflation in 2017.
This has led to a period of subdued consumer spending, which has the potential to result in a recession.
Executive remuneration and King Code IV
The King Code IV (“King IV”) will seek to address the issue of executive remuneration issue. It aims to foster enhanced accountability for remuneration, by insisting on more definitive disclosure requirements.
Additionally, it provides that the remuneration of executive management should be fair and responsible, in the context of overall employee remuneration. This acknowledges the need to address the gap between the remuneration of executives and those at the lower end of the pay scale.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR 2016
Bid to set a National Minimum Wage/ National Living Wage
Talks regarding the national minimum wage have taken place throughout 2016, but nothing was legislated. Legislation is expected to be finalised and implemented later in 2017.
Increased regulation of strikes
The debate regarding increased regulation of strikes continued. The government had proposed changes to labour laws regulating strikes, reintroducing compulsory strike ballots and increasing the powers of the Labour Court to intervene in violent strikes, but these were withdrawn following trade union lobbying.
Similar provisions are, however, the subject of a separate on-going engagement process at Nedlac. There is some prospect that improved regulation of strikes will emerge from this process going into 2017.
Parental benefits should be universal – activists
Legislation which looks to offer 10 days of parental leave and new leave provisions for parents who adopt or have children through surrogates which was proposed in 2016 remains in draft form. The Labour Law Amendment Bill (the “Bill”) is still subject to on-going consideration and submissions which recognise a disparity between fathers and mothers with regards to parental leave. The Bill proposes that any parent who is not entitled to maternity leave can apply for 10 days’ parental leave after a child is born, or, when an adoption order is granted. This leave would be paid for from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
The Bill is yet to be passed.
With thanks to Randall Van Voore, Karen Fulton and Evander Obi of Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group for their invaluable collaboration on this update.