Using Workers’ Month to Know More About Your Rights: New Earning Thresholds

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Using Workers’ Month to Know More About Your Rights: New Earning Thresholds

May is Workers’ Month and an opportunity for both employers and employees to ensure they are up to date with all relevant labour legislation as well as with contractual rights and responsibilities in their particular workplace.


From 1 April, 2024, the basic earnings threshold as stipulated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) was increased from R241 110.59 per annum to R254 371.67 (or from R20 092.55 to R21 197.63 per month, representing a 5.5 per cent increase from 2023’s thresholds). Basic earnings are calculated before any deductions such as PAYE, medical aid and pension contributions etc but exclude travel allowances, bonuses and other discretionary payments.


Earning thresholds : Who is and who isn’t protected under which Sections of the BCEA?

Earning thresholds are designed specifically with lower earning and therefore more vulnerable employees in mind. Those earning below the new limits are afforded full protection under the BCEA but have additional rights in respect of Sections 9-18,  irrespective of the terms  and conditions of their contract. Employees who earn above the new threshold are afforded general protection, but these exclude those entitlements as laid out in these specific Sections. Other workers not protected under these sections include senior managers, defined as someone who is in a position to hire, fire and to discipline others and who can represent the employer internally and externally.

Sections 9-18 of the BCEA relate to working hours, overtime payments, daily and weekly rest periods, meal times, and working on public holidays, on Sundays or at night.

Employees who previously earned above the threshold and did not enjoy these particular protections may now find themselves earning below the new limits, but their contracts cannot unilaterally be amended by the employer and must be re negotiated to accommodate new earning levels.


Employers – staying on the right side of the law

In terms of employer responsibility, new thresholds may require the revision of employment contracts to ensure they are not in contravention of the BCEA under the new earning thresholds. Adjustments may have to be made to accommodate employees whose salaries now fall under the new thresholds, but who have terms and conditions of employment which are incompatible with their new earning status.



Under the terms of the BCEA it is worth noting Section 10 (5) which relates to overtime, and which falls within the ambit of protections for under threshold employees. In most employment contracts, the requirement to work overtime is open and states ‘as and when required’. Demands on an employee to work overtime should not be unreasonable, but equally nor should an employee persistently and unreasonably deny to work overtime. What many employers and employees alike may be unaware of, is however, that this clause in a contract expires after 12 months, after which it is necessary for the parties to renegotiate. Employees who earn under the new thresholds will be protected in the case of employers abusing this clause which has been found under law to be unenforceable after the 12 month period.


Arbitration and disputes

Employees earning over the earning threshold do not have the right to refer monetary or discriminatory disputes (unless they are related to sexual harassment) for arbitration at the CCMA in the event that conciliation in that forum fails. All cases that cannot be resolved through conciliation must be referred to the Labour Court in the case of higher earners. Under threshold earners still have recourse to the CCMA’s procedures in the event of the escalation of a dispute.


Know your rights

It is important that whatever your salary or management level within a company, that workers are aware of their rights in respect of the BCEA and other labour laws.  In this way, if all parties abide by legislation, the work environment will be a more harmonious place.


Blog article by: Carla de Waal
For more information, contact: Carla De Waal – CarlaDW@hammondpole.co.za

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