Casual workers rights in South Africa

Casual workers rights in South Africa

Please note that there is no definition for ‘casual’ workers in our current legislation. The old Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1983 used to refer to casual labourers, but the more recent act from 1997 does not mention them. We are using the term ‘casual’ here to mean anyone employed part time or temporarily.

In South Africa, casual workers rights are generally very similar to the rights of permanent employees, as long as they work more than 24 hours in a month.

Since 1997, anyone who works more than 24 hours a month is covered by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. This specifies the basic rights of all employees regarding such things such as working times, leave, remuneration, termination and more. There are a few exceptions to this, the BCEA does not apply to the following:

  • Members of the National Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency, and the South African Secret Service
  • Unpaid voluntary employees who do work for a charitable organisation
  • Employees who work for an employer for less than 24 hours a month
  • Employees on vessels at sea where the Merchant Shipping Act of 1951 is applicable
  • Certain special provisions apply to companies employing fewer than ten employees.

If you earn more than the ‘threshold’ amount (currently  R205,433.30 per year, or approximately R17,120 p/m), then certain sections of the Act do not apply:

  • section 9: limitations on ordinary hours of work
  • section 10: overtime work and payment
  • section 11: Compressed working week
  • section 12: Averaging of hours of work
  • section 14: provision of meal intervals
  • section 15: daily and weekly rest period
  • section 16: pay for work on Sundays
  • section 17: night work
  • section 18(3): Public holidays (where an employee may work on a public holiday on which he/she would not have ordinarily worked)

Casual labour pay rates

There is no specific pay rate for temporary employees as opposed to permanent employees. However the minimum wage would be determined by a sectoral determination for your industry. Click here for the minimum wages in various sectors.

Casual worker holiday pay

Casual workers rights for holiday pay should be the same as a permanent employee as long as they work more than 24 hours in a month. According to the BCEA this would be a minimum of 1 days leave for every 17 days worked. (Or 1 hour of leave for every 17 hours worked).

Casual worker sick pay

During each sick leave cycle of 3 years, an employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the amount of days they would normally work in a 6 week period. However, during the first six months of employment, an employee is entitled to 1 days sick leave for every 26 days worked, so this is more likely what will be relevant to a temporary worker.

Casual worker tax

Casual workers rights with regard to tax should be the same as permanent employees except if they work less than 22 hours per week. There is an threshold amount for when you start paying tax, which depends on your age. If you earn less than the threshold (which increases slightly each year, then you are not eligible for tax payments. You can find more information about the current tax rates from SARS.

Casual and part time workers who work less than 22 hours per week are generally taxed at 25% from the first rand that they earn. However, if you work regularly for the same employer and can provide them with a written undertaking that they are your only source of employment, then you can be treated as if you are in standard employment and taxed at the normal weekly or monthly rate as per the tax tables.

Casual Employment Notice Period

As long as you work 24 hours in a month or more, the notice period for termination would be the same as that for a permanent employee. This depends on the length of time you have been employed:

6 months or less – 1 weeks notice

6 months to 12 months – 2 weeks notice

More than 12 months – 4 weeks notice

However, farm workers and domestic workers who have worked for more than 6 months are entitled to 4 weeks notice.

A collective agreement could reduce the notice period to a minimum of two weeks for those who have worked for more than 12 months.

An employer is entitled to pay the employee out without requiring any further work.

Severance Pay

Severance pay applies only in the case of retrenchment. Severance pay must equal at least one week’s pay for every year of continuous service. Previous employment with the same employer, broken up by periods of less than one year would be regarded as continuous (unless there was a previous retrenchment).

An employee who unreasonably refuses an offer of alternative work is not entitled to severance pay. See here for some more information about termination from the CCMA.

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