“How long must I consult with employees and their representatives before I retrench?”

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 08 Aug. 2014

Tags: retrenchment, consultation, retrenching, retrenchment process, retrenching employees


When it comes to retrenchments, you have to consult with all the parties that the retrenchment will affect. You must work together with the employees you’ll be retrenching or their representatives on the proposed retrenchments about:

• Ways to avoid retrenching.
• How to keep the number of retrenchments as low as possible.
• How you’re going to select employees you’ll retrench; and
• Severance pay.

If you overlook this process, you could land up at a Labour Court or CCMA for unfair dismissal. Don’t take that risk!

Read on to find out how long you must consult with parties when it comes to retrenchments so you can ensure consultation is meaningful and avoid unfair dismissal claims.



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What you need to know about retrenchments and the consultation period


The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that there’s no fixed rule in ordinary retrenchments as to how long you must consult for. The bottom line is that you must consult properly and canvass all the relevant issues.

Our experts say this all the time and we’ll repeat it once again: “The Labour Relations Act (LRA) says consultation must be meaningful.

You must work together to attempt to reach consensus. Sham consultations aren’t good enough – you can’t simply go through the motions.”

So what happens after consultation?

If you reach an agreement on all issues, set out the details in a written document and make sure you and the relevant parties sign it. After this implement retrenchments.

If you fail to reach an agreement, implement the retrenchments by giving notice to all the employees you’ve selected. Make sure the notice letter is in writing. (You’re not obliged to reach an agreement before you can retrench, but you must first consult properly and exhaust all reasonable alternatives.)

Now that you know about the period of consultation, make sure this process is meaningful so you won’t face unfair discrimination claims.


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