The woman, who did not want to be named, has been in a battle with the uMhlatuze Municipality since 2016 when her daughter underwent surgery.
The employee said in her affidavit that her daughter, then 9 years old, was diagnosed with a rare disease called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in 2015 which affected her sight in her right eye.
As a result of surgery in early 2016, the child is required to use eye drops and insert contact lenses before she leaves for school, which forced the woman to approach her supervisors to adjust her working hours to accommodate her child’s needs.
Since she works in a department that has a shift schedule that includes a start at 6am or finish after 10pm, she approached her supervisors to ask to work from 7am to 4pm daily.
“It is imperative that I assist her in correctly taking her medication as well as inserting her contact lenses every morning before she leaves for school, as well as assist her to remove the lenses and administer her medication,” the woman said in her court papers.
According to her affidavit, the woman’s supervisors said it was “impractical” to change the shifts.
She first approached the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) for help, but the matter was removed because of jurisdictional issues.
After the SALGBC removed the case, the woman said her employers were “even less willing to assist me”, and revoked a previous decision where her request had been partially accommodated to allow her to work between 7am and 5pm for one of the shifts.
She was allegedly told to follow the duty roster as issued and not continue with the “individualised” shift as it was “very disruptive to operations”.
“Out of fear that I may face disciplinary action, I complied,” she said.
She said she was unable to find a consistent and sustainable solution for fulfilling her work duties and caring for her daughter simultaneously.
She then took the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
When the municipality’s legal team failed to pitch at the hearing, the matter was referred to the Labour Court.
The Legal Resources Centre then took on the case on behalf of the woman and argued that in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the municipality should have regard to her family responsibility and child-care demands.
An order, which was granted by consent, ordered the municipality to arrange in the labour cout the woman’s shifts around the times she requested.
Spokesperson for the municipality Mduduzi Ncalane said the city regretted the time wasted on the matter.
He said the woman began working her requested shifts before the ruling.