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03 September 2020

REDUCING AN EMPLOYEE'S WAGE OR SALARY DURING COVID-19

It is clear that many employers have reduced the salary or wage of employees. This has been done to ensure the survival of their businesses. However, the question that arises is whether an employer is lawfully allowed to do so?

This question has been answered by the Johannesburg Labour Court in the matter between Macsteel Service Centres SA Pty Ltd v NUMSA (J483/20). The answer is that an employer must have an employee's consent before reducing the salary or wage.

One way an employer can reduce an employee's wage or salary is to pay the employee only for the time the employee actually works. Alternatively, if the employee works full time, the employer must have the employee's written consent before reducing the employee's wage or salary.

Another way is for an employer to inform the employee that the employee has a choice – accept a reduced pay rate or face retrenchment. This may not be a workable option as the employer may not have sufficient funds to retrench long serving employees.

A third option is to persuade older employees to take early retirement. This will reduce the employer's salary/wage bill.

You have been warned.

Compiled by Les Owen


21 May 2020

  1. Return to work protocol

The return to work by employees is here. By the end of May 2020 more employees will be allowed to return to the workplace.

Before employees can return to the workplace there are certain obligations placed on employers. The Departments of Health/ Employment and Labour have issued Regulations and Directives which are binding on employers.

Before employees return to work every employer must do the following:-

  1. Undertake a risk assessment of the workplace identifying and removing all risks to health and safety of employees.

  1. Implement a number of practical measures to ensure the workplace is a safe environment for employees. This includes taking specific precautions for employees over 60 years of age. This also includes making sure that employees know exactly what to do to stay healthy and safe at the workplace.

  1. Appoint a compliance officer who will take responsibility for items I and II above.

  1. Compile a document which captures all the actions in terms of paragraph I, II and III above.

At Owen, Adendorff we have put together a document which assist employers in implementing paragraph I, II, III and IV above. This document is called a return to work protocol.

Should your premise be inspected by a State official you may be required to present them with this document.

Should any employer want to acquire this document please contact us:

Norman Adendorff: -

Les Owen: - 083 443 3143

Claire Burns: - 084 381 6965

Electronic Disciplinary Hearings

The arrival of COVID-19 does not remove the need to hold Disciplinary Hearings by employers.

Such Disciplinary Hearings can be conducted lawfully via Skype, Zoom, Team Meetings or some other form of electronic communication.

At Owen, Adendorff we have conducted several such hearings successfully if you have a need to conduct Disciplinary Hearing at your workplace we can Chair this for you electronically. The CCMA is offering a similarly service for their arbitration and conciliations

Please contact us:-

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National Minimum Wage

There has been much in the press on the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage. As we understand the minimum wage will be encased in a new act known as the National Minimum Wage Act (NMW Act).

It is currently being drafted and will soon be published for general comment from the public. We believe it will come into effect in May 2018. In our view several aspects need to be addressed in the Act.

These include:-

We will keep our browsers posted:


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