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CASE LAW: Be careful not to pay employees less based on the location they work in

by , 03 August 2016
CASE LAW: Be careful not to pay employees less based on the location they work inDo you have employees who work in various locations around the country? If so, then it may be a good idea to double-check that those who have similar positions are being paid the same across all those locations. Because if you don't, you may be guilty of an unfair labour practice!

Read the following case to see why...


Duma v Minister of Correctional Services and Others (C604/2012) [2016] ZALCCT 6 (2 February 2016)

What were the facts of the case?

Zameka Duma, who is employed by Correctional Services, brought up an unfair discrimination dispute to the Labour Court, claiming that she was unfairly discriminated against based on her geographical location.

In other words, it was pointed out that she, being based in the Western Cape, earned less than other employees, in a similar position, in other provinces

What did the Court decide?

Despite the fact that geographical location is an unspecified ground in the Employment Equity Act, the Labour Court decided that it was in fact an 'arbitrary ground', which made it an unfair labour practice to pay Duma less because of the location she worked in.

What happened next?

The employer was made to compensate Duma for the difference between the pay she actually received and the pay she should have received, for the past three years before she lodged her claim to the Labour Court up to the present.

Also, The Labour Court gave the employer one calendar month to adjust Duma's pay to the required level.

What can you learn from this case?

1.     Geographical location can be a ground for unfair discrimination, as it's arbitrary. And that paying employees, who do the same job, different salaries based on their geographical location can amount to an unfair labour practice.

2.     The compensation for such an unfair labour practice is retrospective. In other words, an employer who pays an employee less than other employees, for the same job, based on their geographical location, may be required to pay the difference from the time it started until the date the application by the employee was lodged, after which they will have to adjust the employee's pay to the required level.

*To learn more on unfair discrimination in the workplace, and how to avoid it, page over to Chapter D 04 in your Labour Law for Managers handbook, or click here to order your copy today.

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