Workers' Day 2016
The 1st of May is known as International Workers’ Day and is celebrated widely, with as many as 80 countries honouring the date and what it stands for.
In South Africa, Workers' Day has been officially observed since 1994. The government remains committed to ensure the welfare and good working conditions for all workers and to enhance their skills. To achieve this, government has put in place progressive labour legislation and key programmes in line with the Constitution.
Today, South African workers and employers enjoy many rights, thanks to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997. The Act applies to all workers and employers except members of the National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, and unpaid volunteers working for charities.
This Act overrides any agreement or contract you may have signed with your employer or worker, and deals with, but isn’t limited to the following:
- Conditions of employment service.
- Maximum working hours.
- Annual, sick and maternity leave.
- The particulars and termination of employment.
- Payment of remuneration and wages, deductions and other acts concerning remuneration and payment of contributions to benefit funds.
- The monitoring, enforcement of the law and legal proceedings.
The Employment Equity Act of 1998 applies to all employers and workers and protects workers and job seekers from unfair discrimination, and also provides a framework for implementing affirmative action.
The Act applies to all workers and employers except members of the National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, and unpaid volunteers working for charities.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 sets out the workers' rights, including:
- The right to information - for example, the health and safety hazards in the workplace and the health and safety rules and procedures.
- The right to participate in inspections.
- The right to comment on legislation and make representations.
- The right not to be victimised - for example, the worker can’t be dismissed because they participated in a workplace inspection or reported an accident.
The Skills Development Act of 1998 aims to develop and improve the skills of the South African workforce. It provides a framework for the development of skills of people at work and establishes a number of bodies to co-ordinate and oversee the training and development of South Africa's workforce.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) offers short-term financial assistance to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of illness, maternity or adoption leave. The fund also assists the dependants of a contributing worker who has died.
There are 5 kinds of benefits covered by UIF:
- Unemployment benefits
- Illness benefits
- Maternity benefits
- Adoption benefits
- Death benefits
Employees who are registered with the UIF and who've been paying contributions to the fund can claim if they lose their jobs or can’t work.
Where to get help
Should you find yourself in an employment dispute, you can contact the CCMA (The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) to assist. You can also contact the provincial office of the Department of Labour on 021 441 8000.