It frequently happens that employers are required to attend the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) under the auspices of referrals, such as Section 73A disputes, which can sometimes be quickly resolved by providing the employee with their UI19 documents and certificate of service.

These issues can be very inconvenient for an employer as the employer has already committed various resources to address the abovementioned matter at the CCMA and committed staff to attend the proceedings, which the employer could have easily avoided. The question that arises is, “why do employers fail to provide these documents?”

There is a common, albeit incorrect, reasoning that an employer often withholds these documents to secure money owed by the employee or equipment and uniforms that the employee still needs to return to the employer. In other cases, employers do not issue service certificates to employees due to the trust relationship being broken beyond repair, and the employer does not want to assist the employees by any means.

However, employers are advised against this as they must abide by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) provisions, as the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) aids former employees who are left with limited or no financial means due to unemployment. On the termination of employment, a completed UI19 form must be provided to the employee. This form includes information on the employee’s salary, the length of their employment, and the cause for their termination. This form also provides information about the employer. The UI19 form is essential to the exit procedure since it enables the employee to file a claim with the UIF. Failure to issue these documents could also lead to an inspector from the Department of Labour attending the employer’s premises unannounced. According to the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act (UICA) 4 of 2002, hefty fines and interest will be issued if the employer fails to comply with the provisions of the Act.

Regarding service certificates, Section 42 of the BCEA stipulates that a terminated employee is entitled to a certificate of service. The Act does not allow employers to withhold service certificates for any reason. Certificates of service should contain the following:

  1. The employee’s full names;
  2. The name and address of the employer;
  3. A description of any council or sectoral employment standard by which the employer’s business is covered;
  4. The date of commencement and date of termination of employment;
  5. The job description or a brief description of the duties and responsibilities of the employee at the time of termination;
  6. The remuneration at the date of termination of employment; and
  7. The reason for termination of the employment.

Employers should provide these documents immediately upon employee termination to prevent unnecessary cases from being referred to the CCMA. This will also prevent penalties and compliance orders, which could be costly and time-consuming. Employers should avoid withholding an employee’s UI19 and certificate of service, but should it not be provided, employees have the right to request same from the employer.

Article By: Dirk Hamman
Dispute Resolution Official – Klerksdorp