1887

n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - The regulation of the employment relationship and the re-emergence of the contract of employment

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Abstract

For years the patient had been given a clean bill of health. About twenty years ago, however, it was diagnosed with much dismay that the patient was already so laden by statute and collective bargaining agreements that there could not be much hope. During the drafting of the Labour Relations Act, leading writers announced that this meant the certain and final demise of the patient. The "patient" refers to the contract of employment. But has the patient really perished or is the contract of employment alive and well? Recently parties to the employment relationship have increasingly preferred to choose the contract of employment as cause of action rather than specially crafted statutory remedies. This development has brought the contract of employment, its perceived ailments, strengths and efficacy to the fore again.


There are essentially three problems associated with the contract of employment. Firstly, the contract of employment is at its core a relationship characterised by the inequality of the parties, something that is normally not a feature of other contracts. Secondly, the contract of employment creates a form of status which is separate from the express agreement of the parties. Thirdly, the contract formally represents the wage-work bargain between employee and employer but substantively it represents much more for the employee, whose social and economical well-being and survival depend on the continued existence and improvement of the terms and conditions of the contract. In this contribution these problems will be critically considered in order to answer two important questions: (i) is the current employment relationship essentially status- or contract-orientated, and (ii) has South African law been able to correct any perceived or real deficiencies of the contract of employment? It will be accepted as a premise that there is no traditional contract of employment succumbing to gradual erosion, but rather that this contract is still in the process of being established or, to put it differently, is still growing up.


Partye tot 'n indiensnemingsverhouding verkies toenemend om die indiensnemingskontrak as eisoorsaak bo statutêre remedies te benut. Hierdie verwikkeling het die indiensnemingskontrak weer na vore gebring.
Daar bestaan drie probleme met dié kontrak. Eerstens, die ongelykheid van die partye daartoe. Tweedens veroorsaak die kontrak 'n vorm van status wat apart is van die uitdruklike ooreenkoms tussen die partye. Derdens is die kontrak vir die werknemers van meer belang as vir die werkgewers aangesien die sosiale- en ekonomiese welvaart van werknemers berus op die bestaan en verbetering van die terme van die kontrak. Dit is in hierdie konteks dat twee belangrike vrae ontstaan. Is die huidige werksverhouding status- of kontrakgeoriënteerd en slaag die Suid-Afrikaanse arbeidsregsisteem daarin om enige defekte in die kontrak te korrigeer? Ten einde hierdie vrae te beantwoord, ondersoek die outeurs die ontwikkeling van bogenoemde probleme sedert die begin van die industrialiseringsperiode asook die metodes wat in Suid-Afrika benut word ter regulering van die verhouding. Ten opsigte van die ontwikkeling van bogenoemde probleme word die doel van die arbeidsreg, naamlik die beskerming van werkers, gekontrasteer met die behoefte van werkgewers tot 'n buigsame werknemer-werkgewer verhouding. Die balansering van hierdie belange word voorgestaan. Ten opsigte van die primêre reguleringsmetodes wat benut word in Suid-Afrika (naamlik wetgewing, kollektiewe ooreenkomste en die indiensnemingskontrak) word die fenomeen van atipiese indiensnemingsverhoudings tesame met die groei van die informele ekonomie asook die inherent onstabiele aard van kollektiewe bedinging beklemtoon.
Die gemeenregtelike indiensnemingskontrak word egter as oplossing voorgehou. Die beskerming van werknemers kan verhoog deur die toepassing van beginsels van die gemenereg, terwyl die waarneembare leemtes van die indiensnemingskontrak deur die howe reggestel kan word in ooreenstemming met die howe se grondwetlike verpligting om die gemenereg te ontwikkel indien nodig. Die indiensnemingskontrak is dus steeds pertinent, uniek en enig in sy soort en daar word dus aangevoer dat die tyd aangebreek het om die sentrale rol daarvan in ons arbeidsregtelike sisteem te aanvaar.

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/content/ju_tsar/2010/4/EJC55353
2010-01-01
2016-12-05
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