Category Archives: Contractors

Building Contractor LawQuest August 2

Building Contractors

Three years ago I did some building work as a subcontractor for a sizable building company. The work I did was a small component of a larger business complex. Every time I asked the building company for payment they said that they’ll pay me when their client pays them. This was one of those projects where anything that could go wrong did, so the project went way over time and budget. When it was finally finished, last year, I sent them a letter asking for payment. They sent a letter back apologising for the delay, explaining that the payment delay was because of unexpected costs in their project, but that they’re committed to paying it, and would I accept monthly payments. Of course, I said yes – I was just happy to finally see some progress with the payment. But after that, I got nothing but excuses. Last week I sent them a strong letter saying that if they didn’t pay then the next communication would be from my lawyers. They sent me an email saying go for it – I’ve got nothing on them – my claim has expired because it’s more than three years old. Is this true?  

Types of Employment Policies & Procedures

Employment Policies and Procedures are necessary for the business owner to establish company rules and procedures and to ensure that their employees fully understand their rights, obligations and the necessary steps to take in various employment-related situations. After reading and signing an Employment Contract that references the employer’s policies & procedures, the employee becomes bound to abide by the Employment Policies and rules of the employer. A company’s Employment Policies must comply with South African labour law, and must not violate the employees’ rights. However, they are enforceable if drafted and implemented correctly, and form a useful tool in protecting the interests of the company.

Contracts of employment are a legal requirement

Are your contracts, agreements, forms and documents all in order? In the course of our dealings with businesses, we have often come across instances where an employer has appointed staff without a proper letter of appointment or Employment Contract. Or they can’t find the employee’s written terms of employment when they are asked to produce them. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that an employer must provide all employees with the terms and conditions of their employment in writing. This document can be in the form of a letter of appointment, or it can be a more formal Contract of Employment. What is important is the content of this letter or employment contract, agreement or document. The contents also need to be explained to the newly-appointed employee to ensure that he or she understands what is expected.

Smoking policy

Medical tests have proven that by being a second-hand smoker (or passive smoker) you run the risk of getting lung cancer or heart related diseases, just as much as the active smoker, simply by inhaling the cigarette smoke. Tests have also indicated that tobacco smoke causes migraine and asthma attacks amongst both the active and passive smoker. Consequently, the National Department of Health has placed a duty on all employers to provide (as far as practically possible) a safe and healthy environment to all their employees.

Paying for overtime

Do you have to pay staff for overtime? Well, here’s a snippet of information that can add value to your company’s bottom line, although your employees may not particularly like us much for revealing this to you: not all employees are entitled to overtime pay. In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the following employees do not have a legal entitlement to overtime pay:

Insist on a medical certificate

When must a medical certificate be produced by an employee? Can an employer refuse to pay an employee who has been off sick?

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act states that an employer is not required to pay an employee if the employee:

  • has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days or on more than two occasions during an eight-week period; and
  • on request by the employer, does not produce a medical certificate stating that the employee was unable to work for the duration of the employee’s absence on account of sickness or injury.

There are also certain requirements that a Medical Certificate needs to meet. The Certificate must be legible, and must contain the following information:

drafting employment contracts blog

Drafting employment contracts

What to include in an Employment Contract

When you are the owner of a company, your main goal is to conduct your business in a manner that will acquire a good reputation over time and bring in profits that will give the business a life of its own. For this to happen, a business requires the involvement of others. Most importantly, the company will need employees who vest their time and energy for your business. Employment Contracts form the written proof of their commitment, and in the long run they benefit all the parties involved.

Sub Contractor Agreements

Hiring a Sub-Contractor? Have a Legal Agreement in Place

Often when a contractor or consultant wins a business deal, they hire a sub-contractor to do part of or all the work at an agreed fee. When hiring a subcontractor, it is important to have a legal terms & conditions, in the form of a Sub-Contractor Agreement, which both of you can sign before the work begins. This is a legally binding agreement, which should be drafted by a lawyer. An effective subcontractor agreement outlines the terms of the contract, which include the specific work to be done, fees charged and payment.

Domestic Workers’ Sector

Overview of the Sectoral Determination 7: Domestic Workers Sector 

Employment Contracts

People who employ domestic workers (cleaners, housekeepers, helpers, care-givers, gardeners) are required to register them with UIF and must have a proper Employment Contract with them.  A copy of the contract of employment must be kept for a period of three years after the domestic worker has left the service of employment. If the domestic worker refuses to sign the contract of employment, it does not mean the contract of employment is invalid. A refusal to sign should be noted on the contract, and a witness should sign that the document was handed to the employee. It is the employee’s right to have the contract of employment explained point by point and to understand what it contains.

Constructive Dismissal

Finally, “that” employee hands in her resignation. There is a collective sigh of relief in the office. But the respite is all too brief. The next thing you know, the employee files a complaint with the CCMA for constructive dismissal. Labour specialists frequently find themselves facing questions about constructive dismissal. Employees want to know whether or not they can claim, and employers ask what steps they can take to successfully avoid or defend a claim of constructive dismissal.