The law on employment changes on 6 May 2019 when several new laws come into effect. These include:

Trial periods

90-day trial periods will be restricted to businesses with 19 or fewer employees.

Employers who have 20 or more employees will have to assess an employee’s skills against the role’s responsibilities in the same way as for any other employees.  Fair process requirements will apply to all performance assessments.

Continuity of employment if restructuring

Employees who work in vulnerable industries such as cleaning and catering services will be able to transfer to new employers, regardless of the size of their prospective employer.

Employees will also have more time to decide if they want to transfer to the new employer.

In addition, there is now scope for the Government to accept new categories of employees into the ‘vulnerable workers’ definition. 

Rest and meal breaks

From 6 May 2019 employees will be entitled to two paid minimum rest breaks of 10 minutes, and an unpaid minimum meal break of 30 minutes, throughout their 8-hour work day.

Employers and employees may agree when these breaks will be taken, but if they cannot, then the law will apply. Shifts of longer or shorter than 8 hours have a correspondingly increased or reduced number of breaks of a similar nature.   

Some limited exemptions may apply for some workers in specified essential services or national security services.

Paid time out of work for union delegates

Union delegates will be allowed paid time off work to carry out their union activities.  Employees must notify their employers in advance and obtain their agreement if possible. Employers may refuse only if the time off work will result in unreasonable disruption to the business or the employee’s duties.

Duty of good faith applies to collective bargaining

Parties must endeavour to reach an agreement during collective bargaining, unless there are genuine reasons, based on reasonable grounds, not to.

Pay rates must be included in collective agreements

Collective agreements must show how wages or salary may increase over the term of the agreement.

Obligations to new and prospective employees who are not union members

Employers must provide new employees with a prescribed form within the first ten days of employment.  Unless the employee objects, the form must be returned to the relevant union.

The form gives employees time to talk to their union representatives before deciding whether they want to join the union or remain on an individual employment agreement.

Employers must forward information about the union to prospective employees, but the union must cover the costs of providing printed materials.

Jaenine Badenhorst

Employment Lawyer