In 2019, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA) was amended in several respects. One such amendment was the introduction of Section 73A of the BCEA, which expanded the jurisdiction of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to include disputes relating to employers’ failures to pay employees specific statutory amounts to which they are entitled. If every employer diligently kept dedicated employee files containing a proper record of important employee information, many disputes would be effortlessly dispensed with at the CCMA. Detailed employee records can also help minimise potential disputes, even before the dispute is escalated to the CCMA.

Section 31 of the BCEA places a legal duty on employers to record each employee’s personal information and to retain such data for at least three (3) years after the date of the last entry. This includes the employees’: Name and occupation, time worked, date of birth of any employee under 18 years, and a wage and attendance register.

Even though a legal duty is imposed on employers, it is undeniable that with proper records, it is much easier to monitor a business’s performance and productivity levels effectively. Such vital information can help the business’s growth and individual employee development. Thus, it is beneficial to retain accurate and up-to-date records.

However, the condition which makes complying with this legal duty most inviting for employers is stated within the BCEA, which provides that “An employer who keeps a record in terms of Section 31 is not required to keep any other record of time worked and remuneration paid as required by any other employment law”. This should be the most encouraging aspect for employers who want to reduce their checklist of legal duties.

The alternative to complying with Section 31 of the BCEA would most likely be daunting to any employer as there are responsibilities imposed by the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act, which obliges employers to retain records of remuneration paid for five (5) years from the date of the last entry, the absence of which may lead to a conviction, a fine or both; as well as the Employment Equity Act; Skills Development Act; and Occupational Health and Safety Act which also places legal obligations on an employer to retain such records.

It makes sense for employers to keep detailed employee records as prescribed by Section 31 of the BCEA, as this keeps the business comprehensively and legally compliant and enables peace of mind so that employers can continue doing what they do best in business and not fret about the legal stuff!

Article By: Hemanth Haricharan
Dispute Resolution Official – CEO Durban