THE EDITOR IS ON STRIKE
– Here is the list of demands
Reasons for the Editor’s strike:
2. Paternity leave: “We want more!”
3. Register for Workmen’s Compensation. “Laat hy val waar hy wil!”
4. I fancy my colleague, but can I show affection at work? Regulate personal work relationships!
5. I do not know my company’s rules and procedures because it is not in writing! Get a company policy!
If all demands have been met the Editor will resume her duties for the June edition.
JJR Inc. Team
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YOUR WORK- AND YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
Is there a distinction?
– Ané Kotzé
It is 20H00 on a Tuesday afternoon. You, as a workaholic or just a dedicated worker, are spending time on your computer, trying to catch up on some admin or to finish up a big project that is due for tomorrow. Was it not for your two other colleagues in the open plan office space who dedicated their time and devotion to their hopes and dreams for a financially free future whilst drinking a double shot espresso, you would have reconsidered staying later to finish up work. You are not alone. Suddenly, you share the same devotion and struggles and that is all that is required to find some common ground in a potential friend. You start conversing by the printer. You find out that you both share the same sentiment for French cuisine and before you know it, you’ve made a friend.
Even though most employers welcome a friendly work environment, there is a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate work relationships that can potentially harm the employer and lead to various forms of misconduct. How can this be?
Whilst you and your new found friend casually converse over a cup of coffee, you will be more lenient to disclose information that was not necessarily meant to be overheard by your new friend, yet, because of the common ground, you now feel safe to share what’s on your mind. Another issue that might occur is that you are now so preoccupied in looking for that French recipe you discussed, that you are taking up your employer’s time, not fully dedicating your attention to your employer during work hours.
Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Not allowed friends, required to work late. Even though employers cannot necessarily regulate internal work relationships of any kind, disclosure of your relationship status with a colleague is not seen as an unreasonable request. Employers are becoming more and more aware of the fact that the personal lives of their employees and their work environment overlap at times. As an employer it would therefore be advisable to rather be aware of the relationships than to deny its existence in totality.
Let’s say for instance that you have a disagreement with your new friend and the relationship turns sour? That will affect the employer tremendously as the first friendly working environment has now turned hostile, making it unpleasant for all outsiders. More often than not, if the relationship is broken beyond repair, one of the parties decides to resign abruptly, resulting in the HR Manager’s day being complicated with looking for a replacement employee and counselling the remaining party, and the CEO seeking legal advice with regards to the effect that the now tarnished relationship has on his business and staff members.
Even though an employer cannot prohibit personal relationships, they are allowed to regulate it insofar as it is reasonable and lawful and does not amount to discrimination of any kind. If for instance the company’s rules with regards to the disclosing of personal relationships and the consequences thereof, is communicated to and known by the employee prior to the evolvement of the work relationship, it cannot be seen as discrimination of any kind as the employer has a standard practice of dealing with relationships of this nature.
A possible outcome would be to revise your company policies as an employer, or to disclose your relationship to your employer timeously. A hands-on approach is the best approach for the inevitable.
PATERNITY LEAVE IN THE WORKPLACE
PAternity Leave: The not so joys of being a father in the workplace in South Africa
– Melcom Oosthuizen
“Is it dad’s turn to baby sit the kids again?” – society’s general approach to the so-called “hands-on father”. In a country where equality is enshrined in our Constitution and further the cornerstone to our great democracy, it is often these stereotypical comments that lead to the greater injustices in society. Our law has made many strides in gender equality including the promulgation of the Children’s Act giving effect to more equal rights between Mothers and Fathers and court decisions in favour of stay at home dads. Yet, we as individuals quickly revert back to gender specific roles of the mother as care-giver and the father as bread-winner. Should a Father cross that line, it is seen as an exception to this rule and often pointed out as exactly that. Should a Mother cross that line, she is seen as career-driven. South African Law has sadly not yet been able to meet the dividing line between these two parallels.
The first two years in the life of a child is a common focus area globally for early childhood development. Would it not therefore be in the interest of minor children and the general household that more attention be given to this specific part of South African law?
In terms of Section 27 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, a father may take Paternity Leave when his child is born, should the employee meet the necessary requirements. This is outlined under the heading: “Family responsibility leave”. It is important to note at this point that the Act only affords an employee three days of paid leave for this crucial period and worst of all, only three days for each annual cycle. These three days can be used for either the birth of a child, should a child be sick and/or the death of spouse or life partner. The Act fails to cater for the “career-driven” mother and the “hands-on” father.
While maternity leave is offered in nearly all countries throughout the world, only 92 of the 196 nationalities offer paternity leave. Before considering the various advantages and disadvantages it is important to view how South Africa’s Paternity Leave holds up to other countries throughout the World:
Close to home – Africa:
Many fathers get no paternity leave at all. Kenya provides fathers two weeks and parts of West-Africa including Cameroon, Chad and Gabon allow 10 days Paternity Leave.
Asia and Pacific
Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia and several others offer no paternity leave. Australia allows partners to share up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave, while Japan offers a year’s unpaid leave to each parent. South Korea allows both parents partially paid parental leave for up to one year (52.6 weeks at 31% of pay).
The United States of America allow no paid parental leave; although a father may take a maximum of 12 weeks’ unpaid parental leave.
Parents in Britain are able to share 12 months of leave after the birth of a child and in Sweden, parents receive 480 days’ leave – including 390 at around 80% of their salary – for each child, with 60 days reserved for each parent and the remaining 360 shared as the couple choose. In Greece new fathers get paternity leave of two days and in Italy three months of paid leave. Many countries allow both parents to share as long as two years (France) or even three years (Spain) of unpaid leave. Some are more generous: Germany allows new parents to take up to 14 months of parental leave on 65% of their salary.
Larger Companies throughout the world
Virgin Management has extended the right to give employees up to a year of paid shared parental leave. Netflix has given a year of paid maternity and paternity leave to all employees.
Paternity leave is not only a societal and parenting issue, but it is a labour issue as well.
Wessel van den Berg of Sonke Gender Justice says: “Fathers are as biologically hard wired to provide care as mothers …fathers with close connections to their children live longer, have fewer health problems, and are more productive and generally happier.”
According to recent studies, the involvement of fathers before, during and after the birth of a child, has been shown to benefit maternal health behaviours, encouraging women’s use of maternal and new born healthcare services, and increases fathers’ longer-term support and involvement in the lives of their children. It further will assist with the more career-driven woman, giving the household more flexibility when it comes to raising children.
It must be remembered that the lower taxes paid in South Africa as opposed to the Scandinavian countries, the unemployment rates and an economy less productive than it could be, all act as deterrents to an improvement in paternity leave. Experts have however further stated that if fathers were more involved in raising their children, it may result in reducing crime in the next generation, better school results in maths and science, a lower unemployment rate and a lower imprisonment rate. All major benefits to the economy overall.
Employers in South Africa are already burdened with all the leave available to employees and as a result of all the aforementioned issues, it would seem for the foreseeable future that Paternity Leave will remain a negotiation between employers and employees individually or collectively.
INJURED ON DUTY?
– Karolien van Wyk
Accidents regularly happens, at home and even at work. But what are you to do if you are injured at work whilst performing your normal duties? The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act1 (COIDA) regulates the procedure where employees are injured, disabled, fall ill or are even killed as a result of a workplace accident or work-related diseases.
The COIDA covers all employees, both casual and full-time workers. The act however excludes the following:
2. Domestic workers;
3. Anyone receiving military training;
4. Members of the South African National Defence Force or the South African Police Service;
5. Any worker guilty of misconduct, unless they are seriously disabled or killed;
6. Anyone who was injured whilst employed outside the country borders for 12 or more continuous months; and
7. Workers who are mainly employed outside South Africa and who only temporarily work in South Africa.
The employer must register with the Compensation Commissioner (herein after Commissioner) and furnish them with the particulars of his business. The employer must also keep a register of the earnings and other prescribed particulars of all the employees for a period of at least four years.
The procedure for lodging a claim with the Compensation Fund (herein after the Fund) is quite simple.
The employee must remember that it is his/her case and therefore needs to be hands on in the process.
1Act 130 of 1993
This newsletter is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.