May 21, 2018

What happens when your salary is late?

Refusing to go to work because your employer hasn’t paid your salary yet?  Beware – your refusal could lead to disciplinary actions against you.

It often happens that employees do not get paid on the date set out in their employment contracts. When this happens, some employees decided not to attend work until they get paid.

But most people aren’t aware that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act actually allows employers a grace period of 7 days to pay salaries.

In terms of Section 32(3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, employers are obligated to pay employees’ salaries and provides for the following:

(3) An employer must pay remuneration not later than seven days after –

(a) the completion of the period for which the remuneration is payable; or

(b) the termination of the contract of employment.

Once your salary is more than 7 days late, you need to take action.

All money-related issues, and unpaid salaries or other benefits specifically, are referred to the Department of Labour and not to the CCMA or a Bargaining Council. You need to lodge your complaint within 12 months from the date the issue arose.

The assistance that the Department of Labour offers you is free if you earn less than R205 443.30 per year and are not in senior management. An inspector will be appointed to investigate your complaint, contact your employer and most likely issue your employer with a compliance order ordering that payment plus interest on the overdue amount be made to you by a certain date.  In terms of section 75 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, an employer must pay interest on any amount due in terms of the Prescribed Rate of Interest Act, which currently is 10,25% per year.

Employees who do not qualify to refer the matter to the Department of Labour must either deal with the matter internally or proceed with a civil claim against the employer.

You can take the matter up internally by filing a grievance and discussing the matter with senior management, or you can contact an attorney who will pursue a civil case against your employer.

It is clear from that above, that should your salary not be paid on time, don’t immediately react by refusing to go to work or threaten your employer with immediate legal action. If you do not attend at work as is expected of you, your employer is entitled to proceed with disciplinary steps against. Don’t let you employer be able to put you in a predicament of facing disciplinary action just because you were uninformed.


Almie Fourie
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