Legislation as far as the employee – employer relationship in SA is becoming more difficult and challenging on a daily basis for the employer.

Legislation is amended quite often.  Case law and awards made by judges in the Labour Court set guide lines and principles as to how certain rules should be applied and situations dealt with by the employer.

South Africa has an advanced Labour Law System, protecting the rights of employees.  According to our Constitution all employees have the right to fair labour practices determined by legislation and case law.  Commissioners in the CCMA must apply these principles of fairness and equity and often refer to Labour Court cases to justify their awards.

Case studies and Labour Appeal Court findings create precedence and have to be followed by other Judges and CCMA Commissioners.

The Labour Court’s status is equal to that of the High Court of SA and has the powers to make amongst others orders:

  1. Granting urgent relief and interdicts;
  2. Remedying wrongs and determining disputes;
  3. Enforcing arbitration awards;
  4. Condoning the late filing of disputes or documents with the Court;
  5. For the legal costs to be paid by the loser to the winner of a case;
  6. For compensation and damages;
  7. Reviewing awards and rulings made by the CCMA and Bargaining Councils;
  8. Reviewing decisions made or acts performed by the State.

Labour Court judges are normally appointed from the ranks of Specialist Labour Law Practitioners (practising advocates or attorneys) and in some cases suitably qualified academics.

The Labour Appeal Court Judges must, in addition, be judges of the High Court of South Africa.

The Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court have very substantial powers.  They exercise their powers strongly even if it results in a very severe financial burden or penalty to the party on the receiving end.

Article by: Jacques du Toit

CEO Dispute Resolution Official – Bethlehem