The BCEA sets forth specific guidelines that employers must follow when an employee leaves the company, whether through resignation, dismissal, or retrenchment.

Let’s take a look at what an employer’s legal obligations are to an employee once the employment relationship ends.

Firstly, the employment relationship ends when:

  • the employee is dismissed;
  • the employee resigns;
  • the employee is retrenched;
  • the employee retires;
  • a fixed-term contract comes to an end;
  • by mutual agreement; and • the death of either party.

When a contract of employment is terminated, there are various processes that the employer needs to implement. Aside from the internal processes such as removing the employee from the payroll system, disabling passwords and accounts and collecting company assets, there are certain processes to follow that is regulated by law:

  • A certificate of service must be given to an employee on termination of his/her services which must include the following details:

             – The employee’s full names

             – The name and address of the employer

             – A description of any council or sectoral employment standard by which the employers business is covered.

            – Date of commencement and date of termination of employment

            – The job title or a brief description of the work for which the employee was employed at the date of termination.

            – The employee’s remuneration at the date of termination; and

            – Reason for the termination only if requested by the employee.

  • A letter of termination that briefly sets out the reasons for termination of services must be given to the employee in a form and language that the employee can reasonably understand. If an employee is illiterate or does not understand the contents of the letter, it must be explained orally by the employer, or on behalf of the employer by someone in a language that the employee understands.
  • Notice – In the case of dismissal, unless there are grounds, such as gross misconduct, for dismissing the employee without allowing him/her to work out his/her notice period (‘summary dismissal’), the dismissal must be with notice. The employer can decide whether to allow the employee to work out the notice period, or to pay out the notice period without the employee having to remain at work. Payment in lieu of notice is advised when an employee is dismissed.

NB – An employer may not give notice to an employee when s/he is on leave, be it annual, parental, sick, or maternity leave. Leave may also not be taken during the notice period. Statutory notice periods are as follows:

  1. One week’s notice, if the employee has been employed for six months or less.
  2. Two weeks’ notice, if the employee has been employed for more than six months, but not more than one year.
  3. Four weeks’ notice, if an employee has been employed for one year or more or is a domestic worker or a farm worker who has been employed for more than six months.
  • Pay outstanding leave – This is compulsory for all forms of termination of employment. For an employee that dies in service, outstanding leave should be paid in accordance with the           Master’s letter appointing an executor.
  • Deductions – An employer may not make any deductions from an employee’s remuneration unless the employee agreed to this in writing (including a contract) or the deduction is required or permitted in terms of a law, collective agreement, court order or arbitration award.
  • Unemployment insurance (UIF) – When an employee is dismissed, retires, is retrenched, or passes away in service, or the contract comes to an end, the employee, or the employee’s dependants, in case of death, are entitled to claim benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

To enable them to do this, the employer must supply them with a properly completed UI19 form which can be downloaded from the Department of Employment and Labour website, see link below. The ‘Basic guide to claiming UIF unemployment benefits’ is also available on the Department of Employment and Labour website.

  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (‘COIDA’) – Notice of employee leaving. The employer must notify the Compensation Commissioner when an employee has left the employer’s services when completing the monthly COIDA return.
  • Payroll – The employer should ensure that the employee’s details are removed from the payroll, and that access to the business premises is revoked or restricted – this applies when an employee leaves for any reason.



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