South African Labour Relations Act (LRA) and your business

In South Africa, the Labour Relations Act (LRA) sets out the rules and procedures that employers must follow when terminating an employee’s employment. The LRA provides for both substantive and procedural fairness when it comes to dismissal.

Substantive fairness requires that an employer must have a valid and fair reason for dismissing an employee. The reasons for dismissal may include misconduct, incapacity, operational requirements, or a breach of a fixed-term contract. Before dismissing an employee, the employer must ensure that they have investigated the matter fully, given the employee an opportunity to state their case, and considered all relevant circumstances.

Procedural fairness requires that an employer must follow fair procedures when dismissing an employee. This means that the employer must give the employee notice of the intended dismissal, the reasons for the dismissal, and an opportunity to respond. The employer must also follow a fair process when conducting the dismissal, including following any relevant company policies or collective agreements.

The LRA also provides for the following additional requirements when dismissing employees:

  • An employee cannot be dismissed for exercising their rights in terms of the LRA or participating in a lawful strike.
  • A dismissal based on an employee’s race, gender, religion, or any other prohibited grounds is automatically unfair.
  • Employees who are dismissed for misconduct must be given a chance to improve their behavior before they are dismissed.
  • Employees who are dismissed for operational requirements must be given appropriate notice and must be consulted with prior to the dismissal.
  • Dismissed employees have the right to refer their dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or a bargaining council.

In summary, the LRA provides a framework for employers to follow when dismissing an employee in South Africa. The process must be fair and based on valid reasons, and the employer must follow procedural fairness to ensure that the dismissal is lawful and does not lead to disputes or legal action.

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