Employers might be under the impression that when employees are unable to work, the “no work, no pay” principle applies.
However, according to Aadil Patel, a director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, and Dylan Bouchier, a candidate attorney at the law firm, when hours are lost as a result of power cuts, the fact that employees are unable to work is not the fault of the employer, nor the employee. Therefore, the “no work, no pay” principle would not apply.
They said in accordance with common law and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, an employment contract is a reciprocal one in which the employee agrees to work for the employer at an agreed rate of pay. Therefore, if the employee arrives at work and the employer, for any reason, cannot provide work for them, the employer must still pay the employee.
A possible solution to minimise the effects of load shedding would be to negotiate an agreement with employees and unions which adjusts the hours of work.
They said, however, that to make the changes legally binding, the employees needed to agree to all proposals. If no agreement could be reached, then the risk and prospect of restructuring in terms of the Labour Relations Act would become a reality.
However, there were some industries that had already considered the dire effects of load shedding and had entered into agreements on the procedures for such situations.