Tuesday | 24 March | 2020
Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. It is understandable that people are worried about their work and what their future in the workplace hold. The issue of possible job loss rests heavy on employees’ shoulders and it is important to know whether your employer may retrench you during or after the coronavirus crisis period.
To get clarity on this issue, we need to lay out the concept of retrenchments.
Retrenchments take place when the employer aims to dismiss employees due to operational requirements of the employer. Operational requirements are described as requirements based on the economical, technological, structural or similar needs of the employer. Shortly, it means that retrenchments may take place due to financial or operational reasons.
Because the operational requirements of the employer are not the fault of, or caused by the employee, whether it be the behaviour or the work ability of the employee, it is also referred to as the “no-fault-dismissal”. Because of this, a specific process is stipulated in section 189 and 189A of the Labour Relations Act.
Should the effect of COVID-19 in any way influence the operational requirements of the employer, the employer may start with a retrenchment process by reaching out a section 189 notice to employees who will possibly be affected by the retrenchment.
Section 188 determines that dismissal will only be fair if it is done in terms of a certain process and for the right reasons.
In short, the answer is that an employer may be able to enforce retrenchments due to the effect of Covid-19 in the workplace, but the section 189 or 189A process must be followed as prescribed by the Labour Relations Act.
Thus, ensure that if your employer makes retrenchments, the right processes are followed and the steps in terms of section 189 or 189A was followed. During this time of crisis, it is important that we do not become panicky and that you continue with your work as far as possible.
Solidarity is here for you therefore it is our aim to keep all our members informed about their rights in the workplace and that which they must do during the Covid-19 crisis.
Remain on top of things with the correct information and news by registering on Solidarity’s corona crisis webpage at www.corona.org.za. This page will be updated continuously with the latest information and regular articles about your rights in the workplace and how to prepare for your future.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.