The ABC of labour laws

Written by: Johann Barnard

South Africa’s labour laws are notoriously stringent and a source of frustration for many small business owners who do not have the resources that larger organisations can dedicate to this important issue.

The bottom line is that no matter how constricting these laws are for small businesses, there is no way around your legal obligations when you employ staff members.

The Department of Labour provides a quick guide to all aspects of the labour laws on this site.

  1. Registering as an employer

As an employer, you are required to register with the SA Revenue Service (SARS) to pay tax on employees’ salaries. This applies only to employees who exceed the tax threshold – which is currently annual income over R70 662. The full table is available here.

You also need to register with SARS for unemployment insurance (UIF). As the employer, you pay 1% of the monthly salary and the employer pays an additional 1% on the monthly salary. SARS has a useful guide on UIF available here.

The Department of Labour is obviously an important organ in ensuring companies comply. You are required to also register with the Compensation Fund in the case of injuries and diseases. This page has all the necessary forms to download.

  1. Sectoral obligations

The Department of Labour has rules that differ slightly from industry to industry. These are explained in the quick guide on the Department’s website. For example, they determine the number of hours that can be worked, and what compensation needs to be paid for working over time and over weekends. These differ according to industry, so be sure to read up on your industry to stay on the right side of the law.

  1. Employment Equity

Fortunately, this regulation applies only to companies that employ 50 or more staff members or that exceed certain turnover thresholds. The full table of these thresholds is available here.

Should you fall within these parameters, you can submit your Employment Equity report here.

  1. Occupational Health and safety

This requirement aims to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace. The Department of Labour has provided this simple checklist to ensure your workplace complies with the legislation.

Falling foul of the labour laws is a sure way to ruin your chances of success. If in doubt, contact your local Department of Labour to ensure that you are on the right side of the law.