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Do you know how the BCEA says you must treat your nightshift workers?

by , 19 November 2014
When my brother Jake started working - at a leading SA industrial giant - part of his duties was to work the dreaded nightshift slot. From 6pm to 6am, Jake spent half of the month working when you and I were fast asleep.

He doesn't often work nightshift anymore. But recently he did.

And it made me think about all the workers across SA that do and how few companies actually know that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) outlines some very strict criteria on how to handle them...

*** URGENT announcement from The Department of Labour ***
Attention Employers!
Not displaying summaries of the EE Act and BCEA in the workplace is punishable by law - a labour inspector could order you to stop working IMMEDIATELY!
Avoid fines from the Department of Labour by displaying this information. You must display:
  • Summary of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act
  • Summary of the Employment Equity Act
  • Summary of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Summary of the Skills Development Act

Warning: You can't treat your nightshift workers like everyone else

South Africa is a nation driven by industry. From mining and factory work to security and medicine, those who work in these industries are no strangers to working at night. 
But here's the thing many small business owners don't realise. While working nightshift is 100% legal, there are certain aspects of the BCEA that specifically look at how you treat these workers. 
Don't treat them right, and you'll be in hot water with the DoL.

Here's what the BCEA says about your nightshift workers

In terms of Section 17 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, nightshift is the term used for the hours your employees work between 6pm and 6am. 
Now you can't just force him to work this shift, mind you. 
You must have his consent – in writing – either through his signed employment contract or an annexure to his contract. And remember, in this section of his contract you must also state which of the two options you've chosen when it comes to his working conditions: Either you need to give him a nightshift allowance (more about this in a minute) or you have to allow him to work fewer hours a week to ensure he doesn't work over 45 hours a week. 
And your legal obligations don't stop there. 
The BCEA also states that you must:
  • Ensure there's transport available between the employee's place of residence and your workplace at the start and end of his shift. While you don't need to provide this transport yourself (unless nothing is available), the transport cost falls on you. 
  • Have a first aider on duty at all times during the shift so that there's someone to take care of any injuries that may occur.
  • Give your nightshift workers regular medical exams to ensure working these hours isn't adversely affecting their health. (Note: You, the employee, need to cover the cost of these exams.) If the results indicate someone is unfit to work under these conditions, you must move him to the dayshift. 
That's not all. You also have to pay nightshift workers differently! 

Before you sign off your nightshift workers' payslip, check what you're paying him is BCEA compliant

For starters, if more than half the shift falls between 6pm and 6am and you've chosen remuneration over reduced hours, you have to give your worker a night shift allowance. This, according to the BCEA, must be equal to 15% of his normal cost to company remuneration. 
Then there's how you pay him for public holidays. 
If he works nightshift over, say December 16, half of his work will fall on a normal work day, while the other half falls on the Day of Reconciliation public holiday. When this happens, the BCEA sees the whole shift as working on a public holiday. And so, you must pay him double. The only time this doesn't apply is if 'the hours worked before midnight are greater than the hours worked after midnight,' explains hrworks.co.za. 
There you have it. If you're employees work at night, remember that the BCEA gives them special protection under Section 17, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf. Follow these rules to stay on the right side of labour law.
PS: Do you find it hard to summarise all the information in the Labour laws and keep up with other regulations?
You're not alone. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act, and dozens of changes and resolutions of Government provisions and the Department of Labour often contradict each other. 
But the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service provides quick access to comprehensive and professional information about labour legislation. Get the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service today - and we'll keep you updated with the latest changes happening in the labour legislation

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