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Must you pay employees during load shedding if they can't work?

by , 14 July 2015
The ongoing load shedding all around South Africa are taking their toll on many businesses.

And apart from productivity concerns, there are payment concerns. If your employees need power to work and you don't have a generator, what do you do?

Some employees might insist on payment of their salaries for the duration of these outages. Even if they're unable to work! So does this mean you have to pay them? Read on to find out...

Understanding if an employee is entitled to payment during load shedding

The normal rule is this: An employer is obliged to pay an employee is he makes use of his services. The obligation isn't dependent on actual work performed.
 
In other words, you need to pay the employee even if you can't use him. Due to factors out of your control like load shedding, that is. It's not the employee's fault if he can't perform due to load shedding. He's still present at work, with his services at your disposal.
 
But here's a catch…
 
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If the employee's contract states that you're paying him to produce a certain result rather than to make his time available to you, payment isn't required. For example, commission earners. You don't have to pay them until they deliver a stipulated result.
 
Same goes for those appointed on an 'as and when the need arises' basis. You only have to pay them if you've already called them in and the load shedding then occurs during that time they've agreed to work.
 

The bottom line when it comes to paying employees when they can't work

Employees are normally entitled to payment during load shedding, but as an employer you aren't entirely at the mercy of Eskom. Entering a contractual arrangement with your employees can mitigate the situation.

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