The Labour Relations Amendment Bill was adopted by the National Assembly in Parliament on 20 August 2013.

It gives more protection to fixed-term employees and some of the proposed amendments state that a dismissal includes the failure by an employer to permanently retain an employee engaged under a fixed-term contract of employment.

However, this only applies if the employee reasonably expected to be permanently retained on the same or similar terms.

The period of temporary service structured by labour brokers will be reduced to three months from six months.

For that reason, labour broker employees will now be subject to a maximum period of three months of service.

On the expiry of this period those employees will be considered to be permanent employees of the labour broker’s client. The objective is to balance the viability of businesses while guarding the welfare of workers.

A further proposed amendment stipulates that employees who earn in excess of a certain amount of money will no longer be protected under the general unfair dismissal provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

In this regard, a dismissal will be deemed substantively and procedurally fair if an employee earning more than the annual amount to be determined by the Minister is given at least three months’ notice of his or her dismissal.

Where notice is not given, the employee will be entitled to compensation equal to at least three months’ salary.

Such employees will, however, remain protected against unfair labour practices, including those relating to suspensions.

They will also be protected against automatically unfair dismissals including those based on racial discrimination.

Written by Molisa Cheda.