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Manage employees to limit risks

April 2023


In South Africa employee management is regulated by a number of labour laws. It is applicable regardless the number of employees and whether they are permanently or temporary employed. 

Employee management is extremely important in maintaining the profitability and sustainability of your business. Adherence to the labour laws is non-negotiable, as non-performance creates a business risk for employees.

The first pothole is not having proper employment contracts to use when employing staff. This is the most important document in the employment relationship and is a must-have document.

If used effectively, an employment contract is extremely useful to positively guide the relationship between the employer and employee. However, the inappropriate use of employment contracts will create potholes in your employer-employee relationship. Without proper contracts it becomes difficult to settle disputes and to deal with conflict.

Make use of a contract, even if you only employ someone on a temporary basis for a day. This may seem to be unnecessary, but it will be to your advantage if any disputes arise.

When labour inspectors visit your farm, they will usually inspect your employee contracts first. Should you not have employment contracts in place or if they do not meet the legal requirements, a more intense inspection of all the other required documents – such as an attendance register, your remuneration system, salary slips and leave register – can follow.

The second pothole is if all the employment conditions are not in line with the labour laws, which set the minimum employment conditions. For instance, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) makes provision for a minimum of 15 working days’ annual leave, thus the employer is not allowed to only provide ten days. 

Also be aware of the following two other major problems that may develop and disturb the relationship:

  • An employer may never alter or change an employment contract without the consent of the employee. Any change to a contract necessitated by a business-related reason must be agreed upon and confirmed in writing. This may be done by either revising the original contract or by adding an addendum to the contract. 
  • Problems can occur if your employment contracts are not kept up to date. The national minimum wage changes every year. Currently a proposal for an increase of the minimum wage for 2023 is on the table. When the revised minimum wage is published, you will have to update your employment contracts. 

Maintaining your employer-employee relationship will contribute greatly towards your farm’s sustainability and profitability and ensure a working environment with reduced conflict and misunderstanding.

Publication: April 2023

Section: Pula/Imvula