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Promise* started work as a receptionist for a small company. It’s her first real job, but she doesn’t have an employment contract and she’s already been working there for 2 months. Her boss hasn’t said anything, and now she’s not sure if she should ask him or just leave it – she doesn’t want to irritate him. But she’s worried that without a contract, he could just fire her or let her go at any time. Scorpion Legal Protection discusses employment contracts and whose responsibility it is to provide one.
According to section 29 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA), an employer is obliged to provide an employee with written particulars of employment at the commencement of employment. In fact, if an employee is unable to understand the contents, it must be explained in a manner and language that the employee understands. If the employer fails to provide the employee with a contract, they could land up in jail (section 93 of the BCEA) or be liable for a hefty fine (schedule 2 of the BCEA).
A contract of employment should explain the terms and conditions of your working relationship. It should detail what the employer will provide in terms of benefits, and in terms of labour legislation, and what the employee is entitled to receive in terms of company policy, company benefits and labour legislation.
It also regulates the behaviour of employees in the workplace, because all company policies and procedures, as well as the disciplinary code, form a part of the employment contract. If there is no contract regulating these matters, it’s extremely difficult to take action against the employee. If there is no contract, or if the employee has never been informed, then he/she has the right to conclude that it does not exist.
There are different kinds of employment contracts, including permanent employment, fixed-term employment, probation employment, and project employment.
Promise should make sure with her employer of the kind of employment contract he’s employing her on, and then request that he gives her a contract of employment. If he still refuses, she can go to the Department of Labour to lodge a case against her employer.
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* This is only basic advice and cannot be relied on solely. Names have been changed to protect identity.
Date added: 18 June 2019
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