The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 2002 (Act 11 of 2002) or BCEA, provides general conditions of employment for all employees and requires employers to record working hours. Sectoral Determination 13 regulates labour relations in the agricultural sector and places certain legal obligations on the farmer as the employer.

Farm workers include workers who are mainly involved in or are connected to farming activities, as well as domestic workers working in a house on a farm. In terms of Sectoral Determination 13 ‘working hours’ refer to ordinary working hours, overtime, Sunday time, night work, emergency work, and hours worked during a public holiday.

Labour legislation is very specific when it comes to the hours employees may be required to work, especially with regard to employees earning below the threshold (currently set at R205 433,50 per annum). We recommend that the employer clearly states all working hours in writing in the employee’s employment contract, which must also be explained to the employee.

Adequate rest periods

One of the main reasons why hours worked must be recorded is to ensure that an employee does not exceed the working hours prescribed by labour legislation. Sectoral Determination 13 is very clear with regard to the number of hours an employee may work, including the structure and extension of working hours subject to operational requirements.

The regulation of working time is closely related to the protection and promotion of the health and safety of employees and even members of the public. It is important that employees receive adequate rest periods.

Keeping a detailed logbook of the hours worked by employees presents many benefits for the employer. These include:

  • The employer can save money as hours worked are carefully calculated, thus preventing overpayment for time worked.
  • Whenever a dispute arises concerning hours worked, the employer can refer to the timesheets to prove that the correct hours were worked, and remuneration received. We advise the employer to keep these records for a period of three years since an employee, after becoming aware of a problem, needs to refer a dispute regarding remuneration within a three-year period.
  • The employer can use the information from the logbook for other activities such as drafting payslips, designing shift rosters, determining productivity, and awareness of the impact of working time on health and safety.

The employer can record hours worked manually, or electronically by using a clocking system. When using a manual system, time worked will often be rounded off, which can result in possible overpayment and a financial loss for the employer.

We advise employers to use a clocking system as it is the most accurate way to calculate working hours. It also eliminates disagreements regarding hours worked. A detailed record of the different hours worked per employee is then available to use during an inspection by the Department of Labour, as well as for employee performance evaluations.

Rules in the workplace

When recording hours worked we advise the employer to establish a control mechanism to validate the integrity of the information from the logbook. This can include spot checks by a manager, keeping timesheets that employees sign for correctness on a daily basis, installing a camera at the check in station, etc.

The employer must set clear rules in the workplace to apply the procedures employees must follow to record working time, as well as make sure employees are aware of the consequences if these rules and procedures are not complied with.

Maintaining accurate records are essential to promote effectivity in a business. These records in turn also ensure that when employers are faced with an inspection by the Department of Labour, they can rest assured and know that they comply with labour legislation. – Christo Bester

The LWO Employers Organisation assists employers to comply with labour law, and to use it to their advantage to protect their business. As a registered employers’ organisation with the Department of Labour, the LWO has the right to represent members at the CCMA. Contact the LWO at 086 110 1828 or ansofie@lwo.co.za.

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