The Labour Relations Act Explained: 5 Things You Should Know

Published by The National Debt Review Center on

The Labour Relations Act Explained: 5 Things You Should Know

By The National Debt Review Center

A blog post that breaks down the Labour Relations Act to help anyone understand more about it.

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Labour Relations Act

What is The Labour Relations Act?

  1. The Labour Relations Act is the primary legislation governing labour relations in South Africa. The Act sets out the framework for collective bargaining, strike action and lockouts, and establishes the procedures for registering unions and concluding collective agreements.
  2. The Act also provides for conciliation and arbitration in labour disputes, and establishes the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to resolve these disputes.
  3. The Labour Relations Act is an important tool for promoting economic development and social cohesion in South Africa. It provides a platform for workers to negotiate better wages and working conditions and protects their right to strike if negotiations break down.
  4. The Act also promotes employers’ rights to engage in legitimate business practices, such as restructuring their businesses or introducing new technologies.
  5. However, the Labour Relations Act is not without its critics. Some argue that it favors unions over individual workers, while others argue that it does not do enough to protect workers’ rights.

Who’s covered under the LRA?

If you’re an employee in South Africa, you’re covered by the Labour Relations Act. This act applies to all employees, including those who are employed by the state.
The LRA doesn’t cover self-employed people, members of the National Defence Force, members of the South African Police Service, domestic workers employed in a private household, or members of the intelligence services.

Unfair Labour Practices

  1. Unfair labour practices mean any unfair act or omission that arises between an employer and an employee in the course of their employment relationship and that relates to the promotion, demotion, termination, suspension or disciplining of an employee.
  2. These acts or omissions can also relate to the terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to salary, benefits, hours of work and leave entitlements.
  3. Some examples of unfair labour practices include forcing an employee to sign a contract that is unfair or unreasonable; terminating an employee without just cause; disciplining an employee in a harsh or excessive manner; providing false information about a job opportunity to an employee; and making discriminatory decisions on hiring, promotion or other workplace opportunities based on factors such as race, gender, religion or disability.
  4. The Labour Relations Act protects employees from unfair labour practices by giving them the right to lodge a complaint with the Department of Labour if they believe they have been treated unfairly by their employer. If the complaint is found to be valid, the Department may order the employer to take corrective action to remedy the situation.
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What is the purpose of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995?

The purpose of the Labour Relations Act is to promote economic development and social justice through the regulation of labour relations. The Act seeks to balance the rights of employees and employers, and to promote industrial harmony.

The Act sets out the rights and duties of employers and employees in relation to trade unions, strike action, and collective bargaining. It also provides for the establishment of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which is responsible for resolving disputes between employers and employees.

What is the main objective of LRA?

LRA’s main objective is to promote fairness in the workplace and to prevent and resolve disputes. It sets out the rules and procedures for managing different types of labour relations issues, such as:

  • Employment contracts
  • Employee rights and responsibilities
  • Dismissal procedures
  • Unfair labour practices
  • Strikes and lockouts

What are Constitutional Law Limits?

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution) is the supreme law of the land. The Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the LRA) is subject to the Constitution. This means that the LRA may not contravene any provision of the Constitution.

The Constitution contains a Bill of Rights which enshrines a number of fundamental rights for all persons in South Africa. These include the right to freedom and security of the person, the right to dignity, the right to fair labour practices, and the right to strike. The Bill of Rights also includes a number of socio-economic rights, such as the right to housing, health care, social security and education.

The Labour Court has interpreted these constitutional rights in a number of cases. For example, in November 2009, in Shoprite Checkers (Pty) Ltd v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration & Others, the Court held that section 23(1)(c) of the LRA does not give employers an unfettered right to dismiss employees for breach of company rules. The Court found that this provision must be interpreted in light of section 27(2) of the Constitution, which provides that everyone has a right to fair labour practices.

In another case, Mooi Rivier Mall (Pty) Ltd v National Education Health and Allied Workers Union & Others (2010), the Court held that picketing by.

LRA 66 of 1995 Summary

The Labour Relations Act (LRA) is the South African legislation that regulates labour relations. The LRA came into effect on 1 January 1997 and replaced the previous labour legislation, the Industrial Conciliation Act (ICA), which had been in place since 1956.

The LRA sets out the rights and duties of employers, employees and trade unions, and provides for the establishment of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to resolve disputes.

The LRA is administered by the Department of Employment and Labour.

Under the LRA, all workers have the right to:

  • Join a trade union;
  • Engage in collective bargaining;
  • Go on strike; and
  • Picket.

Trade unions are required to register with the Department of Employment and Labour in order to be recognised as a bargaining agent. Once registered, a trade union has exclusive mandate to represent its members in collective bargaining with the employer.


The Labour Relations Act is an important piece of legislation that protects the rights of workers in South Africa. If you are a worker, it is important to know your rights and obligations under the act. The five things you should know about the act are: (1) it provides for the establishment of labour unions; (2) it regulates collective bargaining; (3) it protects workers from unfair dismissal; (4) it prohibits discrimination; and (5) it provides for dispute resolution procedures. Knowing these five things will help you understand your rights as a worker and allow you to better protect yourself in the workplace.

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