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Domestic woes, can your once a week helper take you to the CCMA?

Your working hours are becoming longer, you’ve set your sights on a new position that promises many financial benefits since your son has his sights on college, your little princess just started ballet, and mom’s medical checkups are becoming a necessary precaution.  So you could be forgiven for needing a little help around the house, at least once in a while, once a week perhaps?  We all know behind that super mom cape lives an extraordinary human being, but a human being nonetheless. What if you take a little cheat day off this week and hired a domestic worker to help you with things around the house? At least Just until everything settles down at work.

Initially everything is perfect the kids love her, your husband loves her Arabian filtered coffee but eventually things settle and that position you bet your left kidney on went to the new hot shot VP from another company. Suddenly it doesn’t make sense to keep your beloved helper and unfortunately you have to let her go.

Yes, this is a scenario you might find yourself in but as all things there are rules to this, there’s sacred laws you have to abide by before terminating any employees contract, verbal or not. Domestic employment is a recognised profession and as all professions there are certain protocols you have to follow before letting an employee go.  There’s a special body that protects these rights and in the domestic workers case it’s the CCMA and they insure that workers are protected and not taken advantage of at any point.  But what if she only worked for you once a week? The terms of valid employment do not depend on how long your employee works for you, any private household that undertakes a worker for domestic duties is bound by the conditions written in the Domestic worker’s act.

What are they? There are key elements you should consider before enacting The Apprentice on a worker, as stated in the Domestic worker’s guideline, issued by the Department of Labour, whilst the contract of employment makes provision for termination of employment, it is understood that the services of an employee may not be terminated unless a valid and fair reason exists and correct procedure is followed. In the case an employee is dismissed without a valid reason or without a fair procedure, the employee may approach the CCMA for assistance and a Pro-rata leave and severance may be payable.  If valid, the worker must then be given a fair enough notice period before any termination of any employment agreement, so in this case if the worker has been employed for less than 6 months then you’re required to give a week’s notice, if it’s longer than 6 months then you’re required to give 4 week’s notice.

To avoid any confusion and repercussions always make sure your Domestic employee is informed about the conditions of employment in an understandable manner by means of a written contract. Remember to always be courteous in your dealings with your employee, there are repercussions that withstand your knowledge that will impact her life after the dismissal, so yes, super mom can have a break but let’s not have her include breaking the law.

For any further information on valid conditions of employee dismissal please see www.labour.gov.za/legislation/acts/basic-guidlines or contact info@frlaw.co.za

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