Article 34/2021

Labour Edge

Is it always required to lead evidence about the destruction of the trust relationship in order to avoid a reinstatement order?


  1. Certain cases of misconduct speak for themselves, and it is not always an imperative to lead evidence about the destruction of the trust relationship. As pertinently said in Impala Platinum Ltd v Jansen and Others (2017) 38 ILJ 896 (LAC), at paragraph [13]:

Since Edcon, this court has repeatedly stated that where an employee is found guilty of gross misconduct it is not necessary to lead evidence pertaining to a breakdown in the trust relationship as it cannot be expected of an employer to retain a delinquent employee in its employ’ (see also Schwartz v Sasol Polymers and Others (2017) 38 ILJ 915 (LAC) at paragraph 30; G4S Secure Solutions (SA) (Pty) Ltd v Ruggiero NO and Others (2017) 38 ILJ 881 (LAC) at paragraph 30; Anglo Platinum (Pty) Ltd (Bafokeng Rasemone Mine) v De Beer and Others (supra), at paragraph 19; Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd v United Association of SA on behalf of Pietersen and Others (2018) 39 ILJ 1330 (LC), at paragraph 59).

  1. In Woolworths (Pty) Ltd v Mabija and Others (2016) 37 ILJ 1380 (LAC), at paragraph [21], the labour appeal court held:

‘The fact that the employer did not lead evidence as to the breakdown of the trust relationship does not necessarily mean that the conduct of the employee, regardless of its obvious gross seriousness or dishonesty, cannot be visited with a dismissal without any evidence as to the impact of the misconduct. In some cases, the more outstandingly bad conduct of an employee would warrant an inference that the trust relationship has been destroyed…’ (see also Bidserv Industrial Products (Pty) Ltd v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration and Others (2017) 38 ILJ 860 (LAC), at paragraphs [34]–[35]).

The scenario is as follows: an employee is reinstated, not to the date of his dismissal but limiting the employee’s entitlement to remuneration to 24 months.  The employee argues that he or she is entitled to interest on the back pay payable for the 24-month period in terms of s75 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997.  Is the employee, according to Mashaba and Another v Telkom SA Soc Ltd (2020) 31 SALLR 147 (LAC); (2020) 41 ILJ 2437 (LAC), entitled to be paid interest on the back pay from the date of the judgment or, alternatively, entitled to also be paid interest in respect of the periods before the judgment?

A reinstatement order does not in itself reinstate an employee.  How did the labour appeal court recently, in Kubeka and Others v Ni-Da Transport (Pty) Ltd (2021) 32 SALLR 14 (LAC), determine the consequences of such order and how is such reinstatement order enforced?

What is the distinction between s50(2)(a) compensation and s50(2)(b) damages of the EEA and compensation when an automatically unfair dismissal, in terms of s187(1)(f) of the LRA, occurs?