Huge court victory for workers hired by labour brokers

13 July 2017 - 08:36
Gavel. File photo.
Image: Thinkstock Gavel. File photo. Gavel. File photo.

Employees hired by labour brokers will be entitled to benefits if they remain employed by a company for more than three months, the Labour Appeal Court in Johannesburg has ruled.

Judge Pule Tlaletsi ruled this week that employees of a labour broker become permanent employees of the client company after three months of working there.

This judgment overturns a previous one handed down in 2015, when Acting Judge Martin Brassey ruled that labour brokers and client companies were dual employers.

The judgment was as a result of a case involving the National Union of Metalworkers, Assign Services and Krost Shelving and Racking at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Assign Services supplied workers to Krost, many of whom worked for the company for more than three months.

Wayne Ncube, senior attorney for the strategic litigation unit at Lawyers for Human Rights, which represented the Casual Workers Advice Office, which was listed as friends of the court in the case, said "this is a massive judgment".

"What it means for employees who have been placed at a particular site by temporary employment services and have been working for over three months that they can obtain employment obligations from an employer and not the labour broker," he said.

 Ncube said the judgment would ensure that vulnerable people employed by labour brokers had "a lot more job security".

"If they get fired it needs to be done in terms of the Labour Relations Act and not by a company cancelling the contract."

Labour lawyer Michael Bagraim agrees that the judgment means these employees will be protected against ill-treatment and will have access to the same benefits as those employed directly by the company.

Such benefits include a pension fund and medical aid.

"The significance is that those employees are treated equally to the employees of the client and their rights are intact, as being equal to other employees."