By Stephen Khola
As the electrical contracting industry is aware, the parties to the National Bargaining Council for the Electrical Industry of South Africa (NBCEISA), the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa, or ECA(SA), which represents employers, and the South African Equity Union, which represents organised labour, concluded a new Collective Amending Agreement, which defines new terms and conditions of employment in the industry. The new agreement took effect on 1 February 2017, as the old Collective Agreement expired on 31 January 2017.
The Collective Amending Agreement has been submitted to the Department of Labour (DoL) for publication. The DoL is busy with the necessary administrative processes for publication. In the interim, the department has extended the life of the Collective Agreement, which would have expired on 31 January 2017, to 2 August 2017 or to the date of publication of the Collective Amending Agreement. This is to ensure that there is no vacuum concerning the regulation of terms and conditions of employment in the electrical contracting industry.
Please note that these will only be enforceable upon publication of the Collective Amending Agreement. This means that, at the moment, employers have the discretion whether or not to implement the new terms and conditions of employment. However, the “old” terms and conditions remain enforceable due to the extension of the “old” Collective Agreement.
Some key provisions of the new Collective Amending Agreement are:
Period of operation
The agreement will be in place for a period of three years, starting on the date of publication, until 31 January 2020.
Family responsibility/paternity leave
The family responsibility leave provisions have now been increased to five days. Two of these five days may only be used in case of the birth of the employee’s child.
Shop floor representatives
In instances where an employer employs more than five employees but fewer than ten, the employer shall recognise one elected shop floor representative, provided that the majority of the employees at the workplace belong to the party trade union. The shop floor representative shall not be eligible to be nominated to serve as a delegate to the NCBEI and shall not attract any of the rights enjoyed by trade union representatives in terms of the LRA or the Collective Agreement.
Registration of employers, employees
New firms must register with the NBCEI within thirty days of coming into operation. In addition, employees employed at existing firms must be registered with the NBCEI within 30 days of employing them.
Trade union access
The agreement provides that access to the place of work shall not be denied by the contractor if such access has been granted by the client and/or the principal contractor. However, this is subject to the obvious condition that such access should not be disruptive to work.
Payment for public holidays
The current agreement provides that employers must pay employees for public holidays, even where such employee’s employment is terminated within five work days prior to the holiday, regardless of the reason for the termination.
According to the new agreement, the public holiday payment referred to here shall only apply for the termination of employment due to operational requirements, retrenchment or ill health.
In terms of the current agreement, when an employee was off sick, a maximum of 43 days counted towards their leave bonus calculation. The new agreement has reduced the provision to 18 days.
Reimbursement for private vehicle use
All employees using their own vehicles for official purposes shall be reimbursed at a rate of R3-00 per kilometre. This figure will be revised annually.
All employees earning the prescribed minimum wage qualify for an 8% increase while those currently earning in excess of the prescribed minimum wage qualify for an increase of 7%.
Employers who do not grant an increase before the Collective Agreement is published should note that, upon publication, any employer who has not granted the applicable wage increase before the agreement takes effect, must grant an additional increment of one twelfth of the applicable increase for each month the increase was not granted, provided that the maximum number of months for the granting of additional increments shall not exceed three months.
National sick benefit fund
The parties agreed to establish a national sick benefit fund at a contribution rate of 6% actual wage (0,3% by employer and 0,3% by employee).
|Category of employee||Work days absent per year||Benefit amount|
|All categories specified in the Main Collective Agreement||1 – 10||100% actual earnings|
|All categories specified in the Main Collective Agreement||11 – 30||60% actual earnings|
|All categories as specified in the Main Collective Agreement||31 – 130||33% actual wages|
|Non-scheduled employees||Same as above||Same percentages as above but up to maximum earnings of R30 000 per month.|
Pension/provident fund waiver of premiums from the eleventh day onwards in the employee’s annual leave pay cycle, in terms of which the SBF shall pay both the employee and the employer’s contributions towards the employee’s pension/provident as long as the employee is unfit to return to work and remains a member of the fund.
Please note that this is just a summary of the key changes. It is important for each employer to read the actual agreement itself to enhance understanding and the ability to comply, and to enjoy the benefits offered.