[Press Release] Labour Appeal Court Upholds the Rights of vulnerable employees from abuse by Labour Brokers

The Labour Appeal Court handed down a significant decision on 10 July 2017 in the matter of NUMSA v Assign Services and 3 Others. The Court found that sections 198A(3)(b)(i) of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) restricts the application of Temporary Employment Services (TES), also known as labour brokers, to genuine temporary employment and protects the rights of placed workers. The effect of the ruling is that after 3 months an employee of a TES can be deemed the employee of the client company only. This overturns the Labour Court’s 2015 judgement of Acting Judge Brassey that labour brokers and their clients are ‘dual’ employers.

The campaign against labour broking resulted in amendments to the Labour Relations Act, which came into force on 1 January 2015 and provided big new rights for labour broker workers. A new section 198A said that after 3 months a labour broker worker would become permanently employed by the client company. However, these new rights were thrown into jeopardy on 8 September 2015 when Acting Judge Brassey ruled that labour broker workers would still remain employees of the labour broker, whilst at the same time being the ‘deemed’ workers of the client.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) represented Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO) who made submissions as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in the matter arguing that Brassey’s interpretation was wrong because it did not protect TES workers in the way the law intended.. The decision provides precarious workers a clear avenue to now enforce protections enacted for their benefit in the amended LRA. The Labour Appeal Court clearly states in paragraph 43 of the judgment that the intention of section 198A of the Labour Relations Act is to ‘free the vulnerable worker from atypical employment by the TES’.

The judgement says that The plain language of s198A(3)(b) of the LRA… unambiguously supports the sole employer interpretation’.  This is a major victory for labour broker workers, who can now look to the client company as their employer, who must now treat them not less favourably than other workers, take responsibility for unfair dismissals, and even bargain with them.

Download the Judgement here

For more information contact:

Ighsaan Schroeder

Phone: 011 873 0903/079 888 2229

E-mail: ighsaan [at] cwao [dot] org [dot] za

Website: www.cwao.org.za


Or Carol Mohlala

Media and Communications Manager

Lawyers for Human Rights

Phone: 079 238 9826/ 012 320 2943

Email: carol [at] lhr [dot] org [dot] za

Website: www.lhr.org.za