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Month: May 2019

WHO IS THE EMPLOYER? THE LABOUR BROKER OR THE CLIENT?

WHO IS THE EMPLOYER? THE LABOUR BROKER OR THE CLIENT?

I was employed by a Temporary Employment Service (“TES”) to work on a fixed-term basis for a company that manufactures stationery. After working for the same client continuously for six years, I was informed that my services will no longer be needed. I want to refer my matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, however, who will be the responsible party?

As a vast majority of employees in South Africa obtain employment through TES or commonly known as labour brokers, it is a predicament which many are faced with when the client of a TES, suddenly and sometimes without prior notice, decides to end the employment of the employee. As the employee was providing his labour to the client and not the TES, the question arises: who is then actually the employer of the employee?

The deeming provision in s198A(3)(b)(i) of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 (“LRA”) provides that an employee of a TES not performing a temporary service for the client is “deemed to be the employee of that client and the client is deemed to be the employer…”

In a recent series of cases between Assign Services (Pty) Limited and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa the Labour Court, Labour Appeal Court (“LAC”) and eventually the Constitutional Court were given the task to decide who will be deemed to be the employer of an employee who was employed through the use of TES.

The aforesaid section was the crux of the matter and the two main points of argument were: firstly, that once the deeming provision kicks in, the client of the TES becomes the sole employer of the employees, meaning that the TES employees are effectively “transferred” to the client. Secondly, that a dual employment relationship arose with both the TES and client as employers.

When the matter was referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, the commissioner held that the client becomes the sole employer of the placed TES employees for purposes of the LRA.

The matter was then taken on review to the Labour Court who rejected the argument that s198A(3)(b)(i) creates a sole employment relationship between the client and the placed employees. According to the Labour Court, the deeming provision augmented the employment contract between the TES and its employees and added the client as the party against whom the employees could claim their rights in terms of the LRA.

The Labour Court’s decision was then taken on appeal to the LAC. The LAC held that the TES is the employer of the placed employee until the employee is deemed to be the employee of the client and that the deeming provision becomes applicable after three months of continuous employment with the same client, the client becomes the statutory employer of the TES employee. The TES employees are deemed to be permanent employees of the client.

The matter was then referred to the Constitutional Court to make a final ruling on the matter. In a majority decision of the Constitutional Court, the ruling of the LAC was supported and accepted. The court supported its interpretation of the deeming provision by refereeing back to the whole idea of the legislator in providing protection to the TES employees. The court further held that the s198A must be contextualised within the right to fair labour practices in section 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the purpose of the LRA as a whole. According to the court, a TES’s liability only lasts as long as its relationship with the client and while it continues to remunerate the employee. As soon as the client elects to remunerate the employee directly, the TES will then not be part of the employment relationship.

In light of the Constitutional Court judgment, as soon as the employee provides services to the client of a TES for a period longer than three months, the deeming provision will become applicable and the client will be faced with the duties and responsibilities of an employer. The employee automatically becomes employed on the same terms and conditions of similar employees, with the same employment benefits, the same prospects of internal growth and the same job security that follows. This will also mean that any legal action and liability that flows from the aforesaid will also be direct against the client.

Sources:

  • Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995
  • Assign Services (Pty) Limited v National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Others 2018 (5) SA 323 (CC)
  • https://www.golegal.co.za/deeming-provision-lra/
  • The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

 
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

PROPOSED HARSHER PENALTIES FOR APPLICANTS WHO LIE ON THEIR CVS

PROPOSED HARSHER PENALTIES FOR APPLICANTS WHO LIE ON THEIR CVS

According to an IOL report dated 31 January 2019, the number of false qualifications is on the rise in the country, with 97 national qualifications that were found to be fraudulent and misrepresented during the period of October-November 2018. Therefore, as a response to this shocking statistic, the National Qualifications Amended Bill was introduced into the National Assembly and the changes discussed hereunder could be effected.

The National Qualifications Framework Act No. 67 of 2008 (“The Act”) is proposed to apply to every qualification and/or part-qualification that must be registered in terms of the Act. The South African Qualifications Association (“SAQA”) must, in order to advance the objectives of the Act verify all qualifications or part-qualifications and make a decision on the status thereof.

Any person who claims that a qualification or part-qualification has been awarded to him/her by an educational institution, skills development provider or foreign institution whereas in fact no such qualification or part-qualification has been awarded, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence which may be imposed for an offence of fraud. This means that if an applicant lies on his/her CV about whether having the necessary qualification will be guilty of the offence of fraud.

Any person or educational institution who claims that he/she/it is offering any qualification or part-qualification that is registered in terms of the Act, whereas such qualification or part-qualification is not registered, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for the offence of fraud.

Any person or educational institution who claims that he/she/it is accredited by a legally recognised body to offer any qualification or part-qualification whereas no such accreditation was granted, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for the offence of fraud.

Any person who produces a certificate, diploma, degree, computer printout and/or any falsified records in connection with a qualification or part-qualification, to the prejudice of any other person, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for forgery.

Any person who passes off a certificate, diploma, degree, computer printout or any falsified records in connection with a qualification or part-qualification, to the prejudice of another person, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for uttering.

What if I help someone or know of any person who has falsified or incorrectly misrepresented the presence of a qualification or part-qualification?

Any person who conspires with any other person and/or incites, instructs, commands or procures another person to commit an offence in terms of this Act, is guilty of an offence of aiding, abetting, inciting, conspiring another person to commit an offence in terms of this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 3 (three) years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

What factors will the court take into consideration when sentencing an individual who has lied on his/her/their CV?

A court which imposes any sentence in terms of this amendment bill must, without excluding any other relevant factors, consider aggravating factors such as the extent of the prejudice and loss suffered by the complainant as the result of the commission of such an offence; and the extent to which the person gained financially, or received any favour, benefit or reward from the commission of the offence.

The proposed Amendment Bill is a step in the right direction in the combat of fraud nationwide. This has specific bearing on those candidates in high-profile employment positions such as, but is not limited to, CEOs and politicians.

Reference List:

  • National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008.
  • National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill (Government Gazette No. 40430 of 18 November 2016).
  • IOL report: 31 January 2019.

 
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

MY NEIGHBOURS ARE RENOVATING THEIR HOUSE WITHOUT COMPLYING WITH BUILDING REGULATIONS. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

MY NEIGHBOURS ARE RENOVATING THEIR HOUSE WITHOUT COMPLYING WITH BUILDING REGULATIONS. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

What one’s neighbour builds on their property, is not something the owner of the neighbouring property has a lot of control over. Unfortunately, it can have a negative impact on your property if the building work completed on your neighbour’s property does not comply with building regulations. Furthermore, it can be aesthetically displeasing, and be a sore eye to your property. Is there anything you can do in terms of the law to assist you in situations like these?

Buildings not complying with building regulations:

In the context of increasing state regulation, the adjudication of neighbour disputes about building has now apparently mostly migrated from the private law context of reasonableness to the public law context of legality. One consequence of this shift is that any building, first of all, has to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements before there could be any question about the reasonableness of any impact it may have on neighbours. Building works that do not comply with the applicable formal requirements (including permission to develop or subdivide, removal or amendment of restrictive conditions, compliance with zoning restrictions, and approval of building plans) are illegal regardless of their effect on neighbours.

To have these building works declared illegal (to have building work stopped or to have the completed building work demolished), neighbours do not have to prove that the buildings are unnatural, abnormal or unreasonable in the context – the mere fact that they do not comply with the formal requirements is enough to render them illegal. Building and zoning regulations are normally enforced by the relevant local authorities, but if they fail to do so, it has been decided that neighbours have the necessary locus standi to apply for a court order to enforce compliance with the relevant laws and regulations.

Remedies

The local authority or neighbours can obtain an interdict to stop the building work and – at least in some instances – an order to have the illegal buildings demolished.

It has been decided that the courts have the discretion to award monetary compensation rather than order demolition, but recently the courts have repeatedly stated that they will not be precluded from handing down demolition orders simply because buildings have been completed or because of the cost or value of completed building works or the hardship that the builder would suffer if a demolition order was granted.[1]

Views, sunlight, natural flow of air, privacy

A landowner cannot complain generally speaking, when otherwise lawful building works on adjoining or neighbouring land obstruct her previously existing view across that land or her previously existing access to sunlight, natural light or the natural flow of air.[2]

In De Kock v Saldanhabaai Munisipaliteit[3], the applicant argued that the building plans approved with regard to neighbouring land had to be reviewed and set aside because the building, once completed, would allow the neighbours to see onto his property, thereby invading his privacy. The application was dismissed because the court found no indication that the local authority had failed to apply its mind or to consider the relevant legislation and regulations in approving the plans. The implication seems to be that a landowner does not have an independent, inherent right to oppose building works on neighbouring land that would afford a view onto his property.[4]

Conclusion:

If a building does not comply with the relevant building regulations, or is not built according to an approved plan, an aggrieved neighbour’s primary remedy is to report the building to the municipality. The municipality is then supposed to interdict the person transgressing building regulations from building further and can even order for the demolition of an illegal structure. If the municipality fails in abovementioned duty, a neighbour can approach the court to enforce compliance with municipal regulations.

Building work which is only aesthetically displeasing or cause a loss of privacy, but adheres to all municipal regulations, will not constitute an actionable cause of action. The rationale behind this is because of the subjective nature of aesthetic considerations – what bothers one neighbour will not bother the next. Therefore, a neighbour’s remedies in this regard are very limited.

[1] AJ van der Walt, The Law of Neighbours, 1st edition, (2010), p. 341-343

[2] Van der Walt, The Law of Neighbours, p. 356

[3] 7488/04 (2006) ZAWCHC 56 (28 November 2006)

4] Van der Walt, The Law of Neighbours, p. 372
 
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

LAND EXPROPRIATION BILL: WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOUR LANDOWNERSHIP RIGHTS

LAND EXPROPRIATION BILL: WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOUR LANDOWNERSHIP RIGHTS

During 2018, the African National Congress (ANC) announced its intention to drastically speed up the land reform process in South Africa when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he would be proposing changes to section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (“the Constitution”) to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

In essence, expropriation of land occurs when the state takes land away from its owner for public use. Where land is expropriated without compensation, the landowner is not compensated for the value of the property lost. Currently, our Constitution only allows for expropriation with compensation.

The proposed changes to the Constitution elicited much debate, as there is a rigorous process to be followed to amend a right such as section 25, which forms part of the Bill of Rights. In terms of section 74(2) of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights may only be amended by the passing of a Bill which must be approved by the supporting vote of at least two thirds of the National Assembly, as well as the supporting vote of at least six of the nine provinces of the National Council of Provinces. Once voted on, the Bill must be drafted and published in the Government Gazette allowing the public 30 days to comment thereon. Only once this 30-day period has passed may the Bill be introduced to Parliament.

Importantly, amendments to a right in the Bill of Rights may only be made where they are in line with section 1 of the Constitution and do not stray from matters directly connected to the amendment. Section 1 states that the Republic of South Africa is founded on the value of supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. If the rights contained in the Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, were subject to constant change, its overall credibility and reliability would be in danger. The credibility and supremacy of the Constitution are pivotal, especially in light of apartheid which was enabled by the manipulation and strategic interpretation of laws.

Following the above-prescribed procedures, the ANC introduced the Land Expropriation Bill (“the Bill”) to Parliament in February 2018.

In terms of clause 7(1), an expropriating authority must serve a notice of intention to expropriate on the owner of the land and any other person who may hold a right in the property. Clause 7(2) specifies what is to be included in such notice.

There is a misconception that the Bill allows for the expropriation of land without compensation immediately and without recourse to the owner of the land or any person who has rights therein. This is incorrect. The Bill requires the landowner and the expropriating authority to negotiate and reach an agreement as to the amount of compensation payable to the landowner. Only once such an agreement of compensation payable cannot be reached, and 40 days have passed, may the expropriating authority decide whether or not to proceed with the expropriation.

Clause 12 states that the amount of compensation to be paid to a landowner must be just and equitable and reflect an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of the landowner. Notably, clause 12(3) of the Bill states that it may be just and equitable for nil compensation to be paid to the landowner where land is expropriated in the public interest.

In sum, the Bill entitles an expropriating authority to expropriate land against a payment of compensation determined in terms of clause 12 of the Bill. This means that the compensation awarded must be just and equitable, which, where it is in the public interest, may be nil.

Reference List:

 
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)