What employment details must an employer communicate to an employee when they start working?
The following details must be provided to the employee in writing in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (BCEA). This is in the interests of both employers and employees. This is a legal requirement in terms of Section 29 of the BCEA.
The written particulars can be in a form of a letter of employment or a formal contract of employment. It is advisable for the document to be signed by both parties to avoid future misunderstandings and disputes. Section 29 of the BCEA states as follows:
- The full name and address of the employer;
- A brief description of the duties for which the employee is employed;
- The date on which employment began;
- The employee’s ordinary hours of work and days of work;
- The employee’s wage or the rate and method of calculating wages;
- The rate of pay for overtime work, Sunday work and Public Holidays;
- Any other cash payments that the employee is entitled to and the value of the payment in kind;
- any deductions to be made from the employee’s remuneration;
- When wages will be paid, and how they will be paid – cash, bank account, etc.
- How much leave the employee is entitled to;
- The period of notice required should employment be terminated or if employment is for a specified period, the date when employment is to terminate;
- A list of any other documents that form part of the contract of employment, indicating a place that is reasonably accessible to the employee where a copy of each may be obtained.
Note, if any of these details change, the changes must also be given to the employee in writing.
If the employee is not able to understand the written particulars, the employer must ensure that they are explained to the worker in a language and manner in which s/he understands.
The above-mentioned provisions do not apply to an employee who works less than 24 hours a month for an employer or to an employer who employs fewer than five employees.
Why does the BCEA state that an employer must supply a worker with these written particulars when starting to work?
Written particulars of employment serve to provide certainty to both employers and employees as to the conditions that govern the employment relationship. This reduces the possibility for confusion and disputes that may arise when there is no written record of what has been agreed to.
An inspector from the Department of Labour may inspect the written particulars of employment. An employer must keep such records for a period of three years after the termination of employment. A labour inspector has the power, without warrant or notice, to enter any workplace (not including a private household) at any reasonable time in order to monitor and enforce compliance with the BCEA. The inspector may question a person on any employment law matter and require disclosure of information, as well as inspect certain documents or records.
If there is an agreement to change the written particulars, the law further requires that the document must be amended and the employee must be given a copy.
If an employee is not able to understand the written particulars, the employer must ensure that it is explained in a language and a manner that the employee understands.