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22 January 2019
The Department of Labour (DoL) does farm inspections across the whole of South Africa using inspectors. These inspectors ride around and check to see those farm workers are employed correctly as defined by the labour law. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) often does inspections together with DoL, checking that farmers are compliant with immigration legislation.
Most of the inspections are done to see that farmers are compliant with the labour laws and not to try and catch out farmers.
The most common problems observed by DoL officials is that farmers do not keep proper attendance registers and do not issue proper pay slips. It is important to keep a complete attendance register of all farm workers, noting the hours or days worked. This register needs to match the hours shown on the workers' payslips.
The attendance register can either be a standard book, recording the workers' details and the hours or days worked per week, all the way to an app or website that records the information for you. Many tech-savvy farmers or farm managers can use a spreadsheet to record the attendance details. Remember to print hard copies and keep in in a local file. This information needs to be kept for a period of three years, in terms of Section 31 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). Even after termination of employment, the farmer needs to keep this information for three years.
Other issues identified are that there are no written particulars of employment (Section 29 of the BCEA). This document needs to contain the following information:
UIF payments were also identified as an issue. Farmers need to register all workers with UIF and pay the necessary fees. Farmers pay UIF monthly but can apply to pay annually.
Generally, farmers who do not comply with these basic requirements are issued with compliance notices. Farmers who continue to not comply are either prosecuted or referred to a labour court. It is important that farmers know their rights and their obligations to their farm workers, as defined by the various labour laws.
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