In a time of uncertainty and the economic downturn that the country is experiencing, retrenchments are growing at an alarming rate.
It is important for Companies to realise that although we are facing unprecedented times, the non-negotiables as set out in Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, are still to be met when a company contemplates retrenchments.
One aspect of Section 189 requires consultation with employees or their representative Trade Union. There has been some debate as to whether this is to be physical consultations or whether it can be consultations in a virtual meeting space.
The Johannesburg Labour Court has ruled on this aspect and in fact has found that in light of the pandemic the new normal is to allow retrenchment negotiations to take place over zoom or using another form of video conferencing facility.
Although this is allowed, Companies are still to ensure that retrenchments are handled procedurally and in a manner which allows for substantive fairness.
The Labour Court rules have not changed owing to the pandemic.