According to the Labour Relations Act, “Every employee has the right not to be subjected to an unfair labour practice.”
Labour practices may be considered unfair when they interfere with the rights of the employee and the interaction between employees and their trade unions. They are prohibited by law.
The definition of unfair labour practices according to South African law is:
“Unfair labour practice means any unfair act or omission that arises between an employer and an employee involving –
- Unfair conduct by the employer relating to the promotion, demotion, protection (excluding disputes about dismissals for a reason relating to probation) or training of an employee or relating to the provision of benefits to an employee.
- The unfair suspension of an employee or any other unfair disciplinary action short of dismissal in respect of an employee
- A failure or refusal by an employer to reinstate or re-employ a former employee in terms of any agreement; and
- An occupational detriment, other than dismissal, in contravention of the Protected Disclosures Act, 2000 (Act No. 26 of 2000), on account of the employee having made a protected disclosure defined in that Act.”
Employers are the only entities that can conduct unfair labour practices.
Unfair conduct: promotions and staff development
When an employer has deviated from their usual policies or where the way in which an employer chooses to carry out promotion, demotion, promotion or training is considered to be unfair or discriminatory by an employer.
Unfair disciplinary conduct
This is where sanctions are taken against an employee as a result of his or her conduct. Employers must follow correct legal procedures when disciplinary action is taken against an employee.
It’s considered unfair when an employee has been retrenched, with the understanding that he or she will be reinstated if and when a suitable post becomes available in future, and the employer fails to do so.
Reporting criminal behaviour of an employer
If an employee has reason to believe that the employer is committing a criminal offence, they may report it. Any unwarranted disciplinary action against the employee is unfair.