LET'S TALK Bargaining Councils: What are they and should employers be part of one?
A bargaining council is formed when unions and employer’s organisations create a constitution for a particular industry or sector. Once the bargaining council has been appropriately registered it is able to conclude collective agreements on a wide range of issues governing conditions of service, such as minimum wages, bonuses, provident funds, etc.
Collective agreements concluded in bargaining councils bind only those unions and employers’ organisations (and their members) who are party to the bargaining council and therefore the collective agreement.
If the Minister of Labour is satisfied that the parties to the bargaining council are representative of the majority of the industry or sector then she may extend the collective agreements to the entire industry or sector, thus making it obligatory for all employers and employees in the industry to adhere to the collective agreements.
Very often, particularly smaller employers do not register with the bargaining council or adhere to the terms of the collective agreements whether due to ignorance of the need to or for other reasons. Unfortunately ignorance of whether you belong to a bargaining council or not, will not excuse you when a compliance officer comes knocking. These compliance officers can backdate payments on certain issues such as minimum wages, provident fund, etc. which can result in hefty payments for an employer.
It is better to determine upfront whether you fall within the scope of a bargaining council and what the implications are for your business.
Contact our offices for any assistance in determining whether the scope of your business is covered by a bargaining council.