Labour Protect, a network of labour experts from around South Africa,offers this advice for companies employing less than 50 people:
When can retrenchments be carried out? The business needs to have a clearly demonstrated reason relating to “operational requirements” to lawfully initiate retrenchment.
What is the procedure?
Meetings must be held with all employees affected by the retrenchment. The parties are obliged to discuss and attempt to reach consensus on:
- Avoiding the dismissal where possible (by adjusting working hours, for example)
- Minimising the number of dismissals
- The timing of the dismissals
- Ways to lessen the effects of the retrenchment
- The method for selecting the employees to be dismissed
- Severance pay – where employees are offered alternative employment the company is not obliged to pay this.
- Letters must be issued to all affected employees, advising them of the pending retrenchment and the date consultations will commence. Included must be the reasons, alternatives considered, the number of employees affected, the method of selection, the proposed severance pay, assistance that the employer may offer, and the possibility of futurere-employment.
The criteria for selection.
If no agreement is reached on the criteria for selection, criteria must be fair and objective.The ‘last in first out’ principle is not the only consideration. Employees with key skills or who occupy a specialised position may be retained, and a poor performance record may be taken into consideration.
For more information, call 0860 LABOUR, orvisit www.labourprotect.co.za