The Department of Labour conducts workplace inspections through labour inspectors to ascertain an employer’s compliance with labour legislation, the most important legislation being contained in the following Acts:
- Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), 75 of 1997 (in conjunction with Sectoral Determinations); Compensation for Occupational Injury and Disease Act, 130 of 1993; Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998;
- Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993; and
- Unemployment Insurance Act, 30 of 1996.
Besides investigating complaints and advising employees and employers of their rights and obligations in terms of employment law, labour inspectors are vested with wide powers, including being authorised to request employee or employer information, such as employment contracts, employees’ personnel files, proof of registration and payment to the Workman’s Compensation Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, being able to make copies of and remove such documentation, among other powers.
If non-compliance is discovered, the inspector will likely perform a more thorough inspection and may interview employees. When non-compliance is detected, labour inspectors may firstly enforce the employer’s compliance by securing a written undertaking from the employer to comply with a particular provision. The inspector may, alternatively, issue immediate compliance orders, which sets out what must be done by employers to conform and can include fines or even the prospect of imprisonment for an employer for their non-compliance.
While a labour inspector is authorised, at any reasonable time, to enter workplace premises without notice or a warrant in order to monitor and enforce compliance with labour legislation, employers have the right and are strongly advised to verify an “inspector’s” identity. One can do this by requesting the inspector’s certificate which confirms their position as a labour inspector with the Department of Labour and sets out the functions they may perform. Should an “inspector” lack this identification, they must be denied access.
A labour inspector may not, however, enter into the residential premises of an owner or tenant without permission or written authorisation.