Article 38/2022

What are the remedies available to a successful applicant in an unfair labour practice dispute and how is compensation calculated in this regard?

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Application of s193(4) of the LRA

  • the arbitrator is required to determine the dispute on terms that are reasonable and same may include reinstatement, re-employment or compensation

Application of s193(2) of the LRA

  • The primary relief is reinstatement or re-employment unless in terms of s193(2)(c) of the LRA:
  • the employee does not wish for it or
  • continued employment is intolerable or
  • reinstatement or re-employment is not reasonably practicable or
  • the dismissal is only procedurally unfair

Application of s194(4) of the LRA

  • compensation must be just and equitable in all circumstances but amount to no more than 12 months’ remuneration

Calculation when awarding compensation

  • it is indeed compensation for non-patrimonial loss and the jurisprudence relating to the award of a solatium in respect of the Actio Iniuriarum is relevant (Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development v Tshishonga (2009) 30 ILJ 1799 (LAC)
  • compensation is designed to ‘…compensate the person who has suffered an attack on his or her dignity and reputation or an onslaught on his or her humanity’ – Tshishonga judgment (supra)

The following factors are relevant in this regard:

  • the seriousness of the infringement on the dignity
  • the nature and extent of the publication
  • the reputation of the employee
  • the motives and conduct of the employer (Tshishonga judgment (supra); Mogale and Others v Seima 2008 (5) SA 637 (SCA))

The following guidelines should be applied when calculating compensation:

  • the award must attempt to place the employee in the position he/she would have been in had it not been for the unfair labour practice
  • the award must be reasonable and fair in all circumstances
  • however, there is a duty on the employee to mitigate damages (Solidarity obo Kerns v Mudau NO (2007) 28 ILJ 1146 (LC); Ferodo (Pty) Ltd v De Ruiter (1993) 14 ILJ 974 (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.