workers to get more freedom

Mazola Molefe

Mazola Molefe

SOUTH African workers will be offered more protection and freedom by new legislation from March 1.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is increasing the number of people who will be entitled to mandatory working hours, above which a set overtime wage will be paid. This amendment is a way to protect more workers.

Employees earning less than R149736 a year will be entitled to regulated normal working hours, overtime by consent only, and prescribed remuneration for overtime.

The new threshold is an increase from a R115572 threshold set in 2003.

Michelle Naidoo, a director at Deneys Reitz Attorneys, said: "The more you put in, the more you will get out. This will bring about a new dimension for all employees who earn less than the prescribed amount."

Naidoo said that this would protect workers with regards to Chapter 2 of the BCEA in areas such as monitoring overtime, meal intervals and working on Sundays. Any company that violates the Act can be fined up to R500 per employee or 200 percent of the amount due.

"The act does, however, not cover senior managerial employees, employees engaged as sales staff who travel to the premises of customers and regulate their own hours of work, or employees who work less than 24 hours a month - despite the fact that they earn within the threshold," she said.

The new threshold applies to regular earnings before deductions (income tax, pension, medical aid). This has led to confusion as to what determines regular earnings, because some employees are to be excluded due to an increase in their salaries.

"Employers took the time to increase the earnings of their employees as a strategy to avoid dealing with the act," Naidoo said.

"It also depends on the type of business because some require employees to work overtime, soe they increase their salaries and to avoid backpay on overtime.