Most Read Contributor in South Africa, September 2016
Most employers will be aware that changes to our existing labour
laws have been proposed for a long time now. Some may not yet
have responded to the challenges of the proposed changes because
this debate about labour law reform has, after all, been on-going
since the ANC elective manifesto of 2009. However, it now
seems that the amendments are not far off and this article serves
to place in context the immanency of the new labour laws.
The parliamentary process
In the first place, one has to broadly understand that new
legislation or amendments to existing legislation (called
'Bills'), such as the proposed changes to existing labour
laws, follows the Parliamentary law-making process enshrined in our
Constitution, whereby it is firstly put before the National
Assembly ('NA') and, following various committee
deliberations, public hearings and debate, is then voted on by
MP's in the NA. If the law (or Bill) is passed, it moves
to the National Council of Provinces ('NCOP') where it is
again subject to a public participatory process, debated and then
voted on by the NCOP. The NCOP can pass the law, reject the
law, or pass the law with its own further proposed
amendments. If the NCOP passes the law, the law is
submitted to the President for assent. If the NCOP rejects or
passes the law with amendments, the NA must then reconsider the law
and pass it again, either with or without the NCOP's suggested
amendments. After reconsideration, if the NA passes the law,
it is submitted to the President for assent. A law assented to by
the President comes into effect when published or, usually, on a
date fixed by the President.
Basic Conditions of Employment Act
In the case of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the
proposed amending laws (or 'Amendment Bill') was passed by
the NA on 20 June 2013 and was passed on 5 November 2013 by the
NCOP without any changes. The Basic Conditions of Employment
Amendment Bill has been submitted to the President for assent and
will become law on a date fixed by the President.
Labour Relations Act
In the case of the Labour Relations Act, the Amendment Bill was
passed by the NA on 20 August 2013 and was passed on 5 November
2013 by the NCOP with a handful of proposed amendments. The
NCOP's proposed changes were very recently referred back to the
NA for reconsideration. The most significant of the NCOP's
proposed changes have implications for 'organisational
rights', 'picketing rules' and to clarify aspects of
the new laws designed to regulate 'non-standard'
employment. The NA is yet to formally reconsider the
NCOP's version of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, however,
it is expected that the only contentious aspect is likely to be the
implications for 'picketing rules'. Once reconsidered
and passed by the NA, with or without the NCOP's proposed
changes, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill will be submitted to
the President for assent and will become law on a date fixed by the
Employment Equity Act
In the case of the Employment Equity Act, the Amendment Bill was
passed by the NA on 24 October 2013 and by the NCOP on 21 November
2013. As a result, it will now join the Basic Conditions of
Employment Amendment Bill in submission for presidential assent
before it will become law.
Employment Services Bill
The Employment Services Bill is an entirely new piece of
legislation designed, among other things, to regulate so-called
'employment services' and 'private employment
agencies', which include the business of labour brokers.
The Employment Services Bill was passed by the NA on 12 November
2013 and considered by the NCOP on 18 November 2013. The NCOP
has referred it back to the NA's Labour Committee on the basis
of two minor technical changes. This means that it will not
receive presidential assent until next year.
Best guess of the effective date?
It is important to note that after their journey through the
NCOP (and possibly reconsideration by the NA), the Employment
Equity Amendment Bill and the Employment Services Bill will also
come into effect on a date fixed by the President. Since all
the new labour laws interact with one another, it is widely
expected that the President will fix the same date on which the new
labour laws will come into effect at once.
Although time is against the new labour laws being finalised
this year, it can be expected that the Parliamentary work will be
completed in 2014 and the new labour laws will come into effect
prior to the May 2014 national elections, perhaps with effect from
1 April 2014. Are you ready?
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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