THE Department of Labour and the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will rerun a series of roadshows explaining the raft of recent changes to South Africa’s labour legislation in response to high demand, the department said on Thursday.

This would allow for further details to be spelled out for the changes in the Labour Relations Act this year as well as amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act last year. The roadshows would assist employees in complying with the changes and help them understand how to go about lodging their complaints, senior officials from the department and the CCMA said.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said both the CCMA and the department were now adequately prepared for the changes and unions and employees remained the first line of inspection for workplace practices and compliance.

One of the most contentious changes to South Africa’s labour dispensation takes effect next week, when a three month “grace period” for changes to temporary employment services — commonly known as labour broking — comes to an end. A maximum of a three-month contract for temporary employees will now apply to employees earning below a R205,000 threshold should a longer period of contract not be justified by specific criteria.

CCMA director Nerine Kahn said the commission was already anticipating the type of cases they would receive from next week after having already seen a rise in cases relating to employment equity, including strengthened provisions for equal pay for work of equal value.

“What we have also seen which is a concern to us … is around (applicants) not understanding how they should bring a case relating to employment equity,” she said. “There will be a rerun of these workshops that we had where we will try look at the detailed and technical aspects,” Department of Labour director-general Thobile Lamati said.

The department also said on Thursday that its suspended chief director for legal services Adv Nkahloleng Phasha had returned to work at the beginning of March after three-and-a-half years of suspension on full pay. He Adv Phasha was suspended in October 2011, but had ultimately been found not guilty.

Democratic Alliance spokesman for labour Ian Ollis said on Thursday the suspension “shows that the government’s legislation and regulation on conducting internal disciplinary hearings are ineffective.”

Ms Oliphant said the process had taken three-and-a-half years to establish the facts with requests for postponements coming from both sides. The hearing had ultimately been led by the Public Service Commission, she said.

by Karl Gernetzky, 26 March 2015, 19:35