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A quick guide to termination

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


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Sooner or later the day will come when you are faced with having to dismiss an employee. It is never a pleasant task and there are certain guidelines to be followed to make sure you are complying with the labour law pertaining to the termination of employment.

Certain procedures must be followed when you want to terminate employment. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies to all employers and workers. It regulates leave, working hours, employment contracts, deductions, pay slips and termination.

Notice of termination

It is your responsibility to give your employee written notice of his termination and allow him to work a notice period. The length of the notice period varies.

  • A worker employed for 6 months or less: 1 week
  • More than 6 months, but less than 1 year: 2 weeks
  • 1 year or more: 4 weeks. If both you and the employee agrees the notice period can be reduced to not less than 2 weeks

There are also guidelines for certain eventualities, such as:

Pay instead of notice: For whatever reason, you may decide to waive the notice period, but the worker must still be paid for the notice period.

Notice and accommodation: Workers who live on the premises of the employer may stay in the accommodation for 1 month if the employer ends the contract of employment prematurely.

Severance pay: Retrenched workers (dismissed due to employer’s operational requirements or insolvency) are entitled to 1 week’s pay for every year of service.

Certificate of Service

On termination of employment, workers are entitled to a certificate of service that states what their duties were and how long they were in your employ.

Unfair dismissal

Remember that you have to follow these guidelines to avoid legal action. Workers who feel they have been unfairly dismissed can take their grievances to the CCMA, which could end up costing you alot of money.

Source: Department of Labour

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