Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CCMA & labour legislation: Today I may have terminated a good domestic worker’s employment.

One day I came home from work and opened the freezer to pack away some groceries. I could hear Julie was finishing off the ironing in the room next door. A pack of opened chicken breasts caught my eye. I could have sworn I still had a full pack in the freezer before I left for work in the morning. I don’t know how long I stood in front of the open freezer staring at the chicken breasts. All the while I was standing there; I could hear the rhythmic back and forth of Julie’s iron moving on the board. Julie was a hard worker. She could barely speak English. And she came in a little too late or left a little too early every day but during the time she was in my home she would work like a horse.

Unfortunately for Julie, I have been robbed of laptops, GPS’s, cameras and everything else you can think of so I have paranoia about my stuff. Even chicken breasts. That afternoon I gave Julie a wad of cash and explained that I was not able to afford her services any longer. I explained that I wanted her to take the time that she would have worked for me over the next month to look for another job. I was worried that Julie would take more stuff from my house if I let her continue to work during the employment termination notice period.

It turns out I still owed Julie money despite the amount that I gave her. The CCMA explained the law after Julie made enquiries with them. I didn’t realize that we needed to pay UIF to an employee that worked more than 24 hours per month and since Julie worked for me once a week, I needed to pay up the amount I owed for UIF.

When Julie came to collect the money I wrote a note to the CCMA’s representative and apologized for my negligence. I knew I should have contacted them to enquire about the legislation before I terminated Julie’s contract, which I didn’t do.

In the meantime I discovered a very expensive clothing item that went missing on the same day that I discovered the opened pack of chicken breasts. I was feeling outrage at the thought of Julie’s generosity with my belongings when I was writing the note to the CCMA. So I mentioned that I also deeply regretted that I never approached them earlier about a theft problem I had with Julie. Julie read the note, which I was hoping she would and she confronted me. I realized I made a mistake. Julie didn’t take the chicken breasts from my freezer. I’m certain of it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say for sure what happened to the expensive clothing item.

I still terminated Julie’s employment.

From the beginning I never gave the CCMA the real reason for my unhappiness. How was I supposed to prove that a maid was stealing from me? I won’t be taking stock of the items in my house once a week to keep records! Cleaning and laundry services may be a little more expensive but I’ll be making use of them from now on. At least I won’t get a phone call from them on Christmas Day asking me to send them money because they’re stuck in Johannesburg, a million miles from home and without a cent to their name. Also, they don’t worry about getting paid with new R5 coins. My money – any of it – will be good enough.

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Jaaaa swaer..we had a maid who worked for us for 15 years+. At the time when it became law to have a formal contract, she refused to sign it (I guess her era of worker is very suspicious of any such paperwork), thus no UIF was paid. She had the run of the house, was paid double the going wage, helped my wife raise the kids, almost "part of the family" Anycase, we decided to emigrate, and then she showed her true colours. I had two wide lipped suited angry black men on my stoep the next day, shouting CCMA, UIF and up yours whitey at me. This resulted in me having to follow a painfully long process of mediation, even having to give her an opportunity to "convince" me that my reasons for fleeing was wrong. I took the large some of money that we had decided to give her, paid the UIF, paid her a much smaller settlement (as required by law) and pissed of to New Zealand. Not only did she lose out finacially, but the same aforesaid large lipped nogs took her for a ride as well. You have done the right thing and taken your firts brave step in the right direction. Good on ya!