Things have changed at work: the 2014 amendments to the Labour Relations Act (LRA), have improved the standing of "non-standard" employees. This class covers Temporary Employment Services (TES) employees, employees hired on fixed term contracts, and part-time employees. 

TES employees are employees procured by a service provider to do work for a client company, where the service provider is regarded as the primary employer. Employees under TES providers have now acquired more rights than before. The position has now changed as illustrated by the Labour Court judgment of Assign Services (Pty) Ltd v CCMA and Others [2015] 11 BLLR 1160 (LC) where the court held that:

  • both the TES provider and the client company are now jointly and severally liable for any action taken against either or both of them by the employee;
  • The client company is considered to be an employer of the employee only for purposes of the Act – it does not become involved in the web of contractual rights between the provider and TES; and
  • The TES provider could never be relieved of its obligations towards the employee simply because the client company was also deemed to be an employer.

In terms of section 198B of the LRA, a fixed-term employment contract is one that normally terminates:

  • On the occurrence of a specified event;
  • Upon the completion of a specified task; or
  • On a fixed date other than the employee's normal or agreed retirement age.

The amended provisions are on the whole more protective of lower-income earning workers who earn below the current threshold set by the Minister which is currently at R205 433.30 per annum.

Where employment is in excess of a period of 3 months, it is now deemed to be permanent employment.  The amendments now require the employment contracts of fixed-term employees to be in writing, and further state reasons why the employee is employed on a fixed-term basis. 

There is an increasing move towards equalizing and ensuring standardised treatment of employees whose fixed term contracts exceed a period of 24 months for reasons contemplated in the Act.  Employers are now obliged, in terms of s 198B (10) of the LRA, to pay such employees, upon expiry of the fixed term contract, one week's remuneration for every year of employment completed- in other words a severance package. 

The LRA defines part-time employees as employees who are remunerated wholly or partly by reference to the time that they work, and who work fewer hours than full-time employees.

These entitlements introduced by the amendments are but a few of ways in which the LRA  is progressively working towards achieving equal rights and benefits for all types of workers, with specific focus on working towards protecting those classes of employees who are normally vulnerable and susceptible to abuse at the hands of employers.  It is now codified law- section 198C(3)- that part-time employees should not be treated less favourably than their permanent counterparts, and should have access to the same opportunities, further training and development, and rights in the workplace.

The landscape of employment legislation is undergoing constant changes with a view to achieving equality in relations to workers in the country, regardless of their class or income brackets.  Employers are expected to be more vigilant in their present and future labour practices and take heed of the need to comply with current employment legislation statutory guidelines provided.