Three tips for drafting legally compliant employment contracts

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 02 Feb. 2015

Tags: employment contracts, contracts, contract of employment, drafting employment contracts, tips to draft employment contracts

You must give your employees an employment contract when they start work (BCEA). Without this document, your employees won’t know the terms and conditions of their employment.

But drafting employment contracts for your employees can be a minefield. It can be tricky to figure out the type of language to use and which information should be in each contract.

That’s why today we’re giving you three tips to help you draft legally compliant employment contracts.

Read on to find out what they are…

With these three tips, you’ll always draft employment contracts that comply with labour law

Tip #1: Know what law applies
Your employment contracts must comply with the law.
“It must comply with terms and conditions of employment in the BCEA, bargaining council, collective agreement or sectoral determination. And any other laws which protect employees such as the LRA and the OHS Act,” says
If a contract breaks any of these protective laws, you won’t be able to enforce it unless the conditions favour your employee.
That’s why experts behind the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service say, that when you draft contracts of employment, you need to ask yourself these questions:
  • Is there a bargaining council agreement in place that covers my industry and which specifies minimum terms and conditions must I enforce (i.e. minimum pay and benefits)?
  • Is there a sectoral determination that affects my employees because of the sector I operate in?
  • Does a collective agreement with a union apply (i.e. do you have to negotiate minimum levels of pay or benefits with your union)?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, refer to the correct law before you put your employee’s contract together. This way, you’ll avoid a situation where you have contracts that go against a bargaining council agreement you have in place, for instance. Or worse, contracts that don’t comply with the provisions of the BCEA.

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Make sure your policies, forms and contracts are legally correct every time

Can you answer these questions?

  • Does your chairman cover all the necessary points when chairing a disciplinary hearing?
  • Are your employment contracts up-to-date and do they include the minimum law requirements?
  • Do you have all the relevant documentation to win your case if a dispute arises with an employee?
  • Have you given all your past employees a certificate of service?

If you didn’t answer yes to all of these questions then you need to get your hands on this toolkit to make sure everything you do is legally correct or you’ll land up at the CCMA.

Tip #2: Keep your employment contract simple
A contract of employment doesn’t have to be in formal legal language to be valid. The most important thing is that your employees understand what it says and what it means.
If your employees don’t, you could face disputes. So use plain and simple language. Only use legalese if you need to refer to specific legal terms.
And remember, consistency is key. Once you choose a certain style and format to write the contract in, be consistent throughout the document. This way, there’s no room for confusion.
Tip #3: Think about the key clauses you want to include in your employment contracts
Including the right clauses will make sure your contracts comply with the BCEA. And safeguard your and your employee’s rights.
To discover the 22 key clauses to put in your contracts of employment, check out the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service. You’ll also find five more tips for drafting legally compliant employment contracts in the Loose Leaf Service.

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