Any person deemed to be an employee and who fits the definition of an employee according to Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) Chapter 11 Section 83, must be recognised by the business as an employee through means of an employment contract. The contract serves as a formal acknowledgement of the working relationship while also protecting both the employer and the employee regarding their duties and responsibilities. The contract outlines the working hours the employee must follow, the workplace rules, the details around payment, etc.

All workers (including permanent, seasonal, subcontracted, temporary, fixed-term, apprenticeships etc.) must have written employment contracts at all times that they are employed/working at the business. Employees who remain on the farm and conduct work between seasons must have a contract in place to protect the employer and ensure the employee has agreed to the conditions of employment. The contract lowers the risk for the producer and allows all the workplace rules to be in writing. Apart from being a legal requirement, the contract is the start of the relationship and will dictate the relationship and workplace rules.

Contracts are there to protect both parties in the workplace. It is therefore vital that employers understand the different categories of employment, meaning whether the employee is permanently employed or only used seasonally, and ensure that the working relationship must be correctly reflected in the contract. Along with Section 83 of the BCEA, one should also refer to Sectoral Determination 13, Section 34 to understand the requirements from the business in formalising the employment relationship.

Employers also need to remember to provide employees with a contract when they start working as per legal requirements, Sectoral Determination 13, Section 9(1). Employers cannot wait days, weeks, or months before supplying an employee with a contract, as this puts both the employer and employee at risk. The employment contract must also be explained and understood by the employee when they start working — this should be repeated if necessary.

For more information and assistance on contracts, feel free to view the SIZA Social Standard: https://siza.co.za/standard/social-standard/ and examples/templates of contracts here: https://siza.co.za/document-library/social-library-documents-templates/