The CCMA with its primary functions to conciliate and arbitrate labour disputes arising out of the application and interpretation of right established by the Labour Relations Act (LRA), has been the centrepiece of our statutory dispute resolution system for many years.

However, labour disputes arising out of other labour legislation, notably the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Employment Equity Act, Health and Safety Act established the department of labour with its labour inspectors as a first level of dispute resolution.

The Department of Labour is the department of the South African government responsible for matters related to employment, including industrial relations, job creation, unemployment insurance and occupational health and safety.

Labour Inspectors visit workplaces from time to time to check the level of compliance with labour legislation other than the rights established by the LRA and is regulated by chapter 10 of the BCEA.

Inspectors from the Department of Labour are appointed in terms of section 63 (1) of the BCEA to monitor and enforce the provisions of legislation.

Their duties include:

(1) Advising employers and your employees of their rights and obligations in relation to the labour laws.

(2) Investigate complaints about non-compliant employers.

(3) Conduct inspections of work places.

(4) Ensuring that employers comply at the workplace.

Their rights include:

(1) The right to information relating to employment laws.

(2) The right to make copies of documents.

(3) The right to inspect and question you about any article, substance or machinery at the work place.

(4) The right to question you about the work you do.

(5) The right to inspect or question you about documents relating to employment laws.

The broad structure of the functions of the labour inspectors must first seek to obtain a written undertaking from the employer to comply with the provisions of the Act and thereafter, a compliance order may be issued explaining the action required to rectify the contravention.

An inspector has the power to enter a workplace with or without a warrant or notice in order to question persons, make copies of documents and inspect premises.

An employer may, within 21 days of receiving the labour inspector’s compliance order, make representations to the Director-General objecting to the compliance order. After considering the written representations, the Director-General may confirm, vary or set aside the compliance order.

Within 21 days of receiving the Director-General’s decision, the employer may appeal to the Labour Court against such an order. Such an appeal suspends the operation of the order until the appeal is finalised.

Should the employer fail to comply with the order or to object against it to the Director-General within 21 days, the Director-General may apply to the Labour Court for the compliance order to be made an order of court.

Please click on the following link in order to obtain the inspection form used by the inspectors when visiting your workplace – 

Do not hesitate contact your nearest CEO office for more information regarding the department of labour function as a dispute resolution mechanism.


Article by: Erenst Du Toit

CEO Regional Manager – Gauteng