Workers’ Month | Know your employee rights

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May Day was formally recognised as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891 and today, the majority of countries around the world celebrate workers' day on May the first. Matter of fact, the entire month of May is now considered Workers Month.

May the 1st (workers’ day), what is the significance of this day and month? We usually take for granted the struggles and challenges the previous generations had to go through and what they contributed to current labour laws so that we are treated with a bit more fairness than they were.

In this article, we cover important information regarding employee rights.

Some companies take advantage of workers because of their ignorance around their rights in the workplace, the onus is on each employee to understand what their rights are.

A brief history lesson:

The 1st of May is International Workers Day also knows as Labour Day or Workers Day in some countries it is also referred to as May Day. On the 7th October 1884, the Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions, in the United States of America and Canada resolved that eight hours should constitute a legal day’s labour as of 01 May 1886. Since then May Day has been celebrated on the 1st of May annually.

May Day was formally recognised as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891 and today, the majority of countries around the world celebrate workers’ day on May the first. Matter of fact, the entire month of May is now considered Workers Month.

To celebrate this key and significant month, we have shared a nicely summarised version of general employee rights and duties shared previously by legalwise.co.za

Know your rights and duties as an employee:

  • The rights and duties may be decided by the parties as long as they remain within the boundaries of the law and the collective agreements.
  • An employee in terms of the law has a right to:
    • Work a maximum of 45 hours a week or 9 hours a day (8 hours a day if the employee works 6 or 7 days a week);
    • Work overtime of no more than 10 hours a week (not more than 12 hours of work a day), and an employee who works overtime must receive one and a half times the daily wage (including a person who ordinarily works on a Sunday) or double the daily wage for working on a Sunday or a Public Holiday;
    • Take a 60-minute break after 5 hours of work – if an employee works less than 6 hours a day she/he may forfeit the lunch break;
  • An employee in terms of the law has a right to receive:
    • Annual leave of 21 days a year or 1 day for every 17 days worked;
    • Sick leave of 6 weeks over a 36-month period;
    • Family responsibility leave of 3 days over a year for when an employee’s child is born or is sick; the employee legally adopts a child; or for the death of the employee’s spouse, life partner, parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild, or sibling;
    • Maternity leave of no more than 4 months, with or without remuneration as agreed to, and the employee must not work within 6 weeks from the date of the birth of her child;
    • Claim money from the unemployment insurance fund if the employee does not receive her full salary during maternity leave;
    • Receive a written payslip;
    • Work in a healthy and safe environment;
    • Be protected from sexual harassment such as touching, rude suggestions, dirty talking, pornography, indecent exposure, or similar conduct, and victimisation;
    • Not be forced to have an HIV test unless the Labour Court authorises one;
    • Be received by the employer into service; and
    • Receive a certificate of service upon leaving employment.

What are the duties of an employee?

  • An employee’s duties are to:
    • Have a healthy employment relationship with his/her employer;
    • Co-operate with the employer and obey lawful instructions, rules and procedures;
    • Be respectful, honest and obedient;
    • Act in good faith to the employer such as not divulging confidential information;
    • Refrain from misconduct or face possible dismissal;
    • Examples of misconduct include dishonesty; drunkenness or hangovers; gross negligence; physical assault; revealing of trade secrets; persistent idleness; and damage to the employer’s property;
    • Enter into and perform services;
    • Guarantee that she/he is capable of performing the tasks agreed to and to carry them out with efficiency and without negligence;
    • Further the employer’s business interests by not allowing personal interests to conflict with the employer’s interests such as being employed with a competing business;
    • Not tamper or remove safety objects at the employer’s premises;
    • Report unhealthy or unsafe conditions; and
    • Provide notice of termination of the employment agreement.

It is important for all employees and employers to know their rights and the rights of others to avoid taking advantage of being taken advantage of.

Enjoy this worker’s month.

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