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HR 101 – Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 1

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

One of the most incorrect perceptions and the one that is most often uttered is that the Labour Relations Act (LRA) favours the employee.

In 1995, the old Labour Relations Act that was created in 1956 was scrapped by the new ANC government and a new act was put into place. The new act is the Labour Relations Act of 1995. Yes the act does more to protect the employee from unscrupulous employers, but the new LRA also protects the employer – now how is that for a mind shift?

Granted the new law also meets the Labour Movements Agenda, but that said, if the employer follows the basic rules, the employer is also protected from the employee.

Here’s the way that I see it: –
The law, the way it was, was fundamentally flawed and very lopsided and very much in favour of the employer. The law today is a lot fairer to both the employer and the employee.

Yes it is different! The biggest difference is the fact that employers now have to know the law and they have to follow the procedures. Here’s a thought – if people spent as much time learning the basics of the law and implementing policies and procedures in order to implement that law, as they do moaning about the fact that the law has changed, they would find themselves in an incredibly strong and empowered position.

Some of the protection for employees is (but not limited to):

“Employees are entitled to join and participate in legitimate trade union activity without fear of being fired for this.”

Now most of us look at the unions as a bad thing. Me, I think that they are fabulous! I can just see everybody looking at me as though I have lost the plot! The truth is though, that as much as the unions can cause a lot of perhaps uncomfortable moments for the employer and that they are most definitely on the side of the employee, they also have a responsibility to the employer. Employers can hold the trade union responsible for the behaviour of the employees. How’s that for a thought?

If you as an employer have staff, who are members of a trade union – use the trade unions to get your message across to your staff. Staff, who are not performing put themselves at risk in terms of their employment contracts. Employers have the right to have employees that perform in terms of the requirements of the job and it is incumbent upon the trade unions to ensure that their members meet these requirements.

So once again, instead of moaning and griping about how bad the trade unions are, turn it around, use the trade unions to make your staff aware of your requirements and also, that these requirements if not met, have serious consequences.

Next time we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.