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Case law: Can employees work excessive overtime during 'peak' periods?

by , 29 September 2015
There may be times when you require your employees to work overtime. But what if you need them to work excessive overtime so as to meet your requirements during 'peak' periods?

Read on to find out:

Case: Maneche & Others v CCMA & Others (Northern Cape Mushrooms)
Here, a mushroom farm in the Northern Cape, namely Northern Cape Mushrooms, had employees who were working excessive overtime in order to meet requirements during the peak picking season.
On the day in question, employees left work after having worked three hours' overtime as covered in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
But the work for that day hadn't been done according to the employer's requirements. And so, the employees were dismissed for insubordination.
The employees then referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for unfair dismissal.
The CCMA had to take into consideration the fact that law allows for no more than 12 hours' work on any given day and no more than 10 hours overtime per week.
In the CCMA, Northern Cape Mushrooms argued that employees had been working excessive overtime during picking season for years. And the CCMA actually agreed with the employer.
But the matter was then referred to the Labour Court, where the opposite was decided.

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The Labour Court disagreed with the CCMA in stating that while employees had been working excessive overtime for years, it still undermined the very foundation of the relevant legislation. So they couldn't dismiss the employees.
What does this mean for you? Well, it means that you CAN'T make employees work more than the allowed hours of overtime, even if your employment contracts state that they will.
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