Article 32/2023

What are the factors to be taken into account to determine the period of reinstatement?

What are the factors to be taken into account to determine the amount of back pay?

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In Moroveke v Talane NO (2021) 32 SALLR 34 (CC), the constitutional court recently had to deal with
providing answers to both the aforesaid questions, and dealt with the matters as follows:

reinstatement?

  • the period of reinstatement should take into account the period of unemployment since the date of the dismissal that is substantively unfair or substantively and procedurally unfair
  • the reinstatement order period should not be such to either enrich or impoverish the employee, but its purpose should be to restore the employment relationship

(see, further, Toyota v CCMA (2016) 37 ILJ 313 (CC); Mediterranean Textile Mills v SACTWU (2012) 33 ILJ 160 (LAC); Sibiya v SAPS (2022) 33 SALLR 28 (LAC))

back pay?

  • the purpose of back pay is to make good the employee’s loss and not to punish the employer
  • back pay thus represents the difference between the amount the employee, who has been substantively unfairly dismissed or substantively and procedurally unfairly dismissed, earned before the date of dismissal when compared to the period of unemployment – it is thus possible that reinstatement could be for a period of 24 months, but back pay could be for a shorter or longer time period, depending, in both instances, on different factors, namely, the period of unemployment and the amount of loss

(see, further, Davids v Boland Rugby [2012] ZALCCT 69; Le Monde Luggage v Dunn NO (2007) 28 ILJ 2238 (LAC))

With reference to Potgieter v Samancor Chrome Ltd t/a Tubatse Ferrochrome (2022) 33 SALLR 190 (LC) and Van Rensburg and Others v Department of Justice and Correctional Services and Others (2022) 33 SALLR 280 (LC); (2022) 43 ILJ 2110 (LC).

In what instances does the jurisdiction of the supreme court of appeal trump the jurisdiction of the labour appeal court?

Where an employer prematurely terminates a fixed-term contract and the employee challenges such termination as being unlawful and claims damages and not specific performance, the labour court has up to now ordered damages even though same is an unliquidated claim for damages.