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What you NEED to know about short-time

by , 07 January 2014
Do you need to reduce employee costs? Are you thinking of retrenchments, but still need to keep certain employees? There is another option! Why not reduce your employee's working hours instead by implementing short-time? Here's everything you need to know about short-time.


According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, there's no legal definition of short-time.

But it's the term used when you want to reduce your employee's working hours. This means, they'll work for a shorter time than they'd usually work in terms of employment contracts. And you'll pay them less than what they'll earn if they work full-time.

You might need to reduce the working hours of employees for a number of different reasons. For example, you lost a large contract and don't have enough work for all your employees.

Important: Short-time changes your employees' terms and conditions of employment. So you can't just implement it. You need to follow a legally correct procedure.

Use these three steps to implement short-time in your business

Step#1: Get your employees to agree to short-time. To get their consent, you have to consult each employee and persuade them to agree to the new working hours.

If you can't get employees to agree, move onto step#2.

Step#2: Engage in collective bargaining. If your employees won't agree to the shorter hours, engage in collective bargaining in an attempt to reach agreement with the trade union.

What happens if you can't strike a deal?

If you can't reach an agreement, step#3 applies.

Step#3: Start the retrenchment process.

'For most, dismissal is the last resort. But if you want to implement short-time because of affordability and the economic viability of your business, and employees won't agree to it, you can start a retrenchment exercise,' says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

This'll help you reduce costs in line with your operational requirements.

Remember your reason for the retrenchment must be fair and you must follow a consultative process.

Now that you know what short-time is, consider implementing it next time you need to reduce employee costs or are thinking of retrenchments.

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