I’ve received a number of emails from business consultants trying to get me to buy an Access to Information Act manual from them. They’re telling me that I could be fined or go to jail if I don’t get it drafted. Is this something I need to get done?

A:

Section 51(1) of the Promotion of Access to Information Act requires businesses to compile an Information Manual, and to lodge it with the Human Rights Commission. However, certain businesses are temporarily exempt from this requirement. You do not need to draft this manual if your business: Read More.....

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I got a loan from the bank because I thought I would get a thirteenth cheque. But my employer didn’t pay me a Christmas bonus. Doesn’t the law say that my employer must pay me a bonus?

A:

To start off with, you need to understand that there is no legal requirement in South African labour law for an employer to pay its staff any annual bonuses or thirteenth cheques. Read More.....

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Common law principle of voetstoots

Under our common law, when a buyer buys goods there is an implied warranty that the seller sells the goods free from any defects. But if the goods are sold voetstoots, it means that the buyer takes delivery of the goods “as is” and without warranty. If goods are sold voetstoots and the buyer later finds out that there is a defect with them, the buyer would have no recourse against the seller. Read More.....

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I run a small business selling second-hand clothing. I’ve had some customers return clothes to me because of defects such as small stains, missing buttons or zips that stick. They tell me that they’re entitled to return defective goods under the Consumer Protection Act. I run a very small enterprise, and it’s hard on my business to keep on giving refunds like this. Also, when you buy second-hand clothes surely you’d expect that there may be small defects in some of the clothing? Read More.....

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When I moved into my townhouse 5 months ago I signed a one-year lease with my landlord. I’ve been retrenched and am moving back to my parents, but my landlord says that I have to pay him 7 months’ rent because I’m breaking our lease agreement contract. Can he do this? 

A:

Even though you signed a one-year lease, you are still able to terminate the lease early. The Consumer Protection Act gives you the right to cancel the lease on 20 business days’ notice to the landlord. Generally speaking, the landlord cannot demand that you pay for the full unexpired period of the lease. But he can claim a cancellation penalty from you, provided the penalty amount is sufficiently reasonable to compensate him for your early termination. What may be considered “reasonable” is determined on its own facts, so get advice from an attorney who will advise you after reading your contract of lease. Read More.....

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The usual scenario is that a landlord advertises his property for rent. Prospective tenants view the property. If they like it, and the price is right, they enter into a lease agreement. The lease agreement will specify, amongst other things, the monthly rental and how long the lease will endure for. But what if, along the way, the property suffers some form of deterioration that materially detracts from the tenant’s living conditions? Is the landlord responsible for maintaining the leased property? Is the tenant entitled to terminate the lease and move out? Read More.....

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My employee has built up a good relationship with my customers. How do I protect myself in the event that my employee resigns and tries to take my customers with him/her?

A:

You should probably consider getting your employee to sign a Restraint of Trade Agreement. Restraints of Trade are useful to have if you as an employer have a “protectable proprietary interest”. Read More.....

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South African labour law recognises that it is sometimes necessary for a company to implement a zero tolerance policy. This is especially so where the policy is in place to counter what would otherwise be a serious risk to the Company. But that doesn’t mean that the company can act with impunity.

So, can a Company dismiss an employee for a minor transgression on the basis of its Zero Tolerance policy? To answer this question, consider the 2015 case of Shoprite Checkers v Tokiso Dispute Settlement. Shoprite Checkers implemented a policy that on entering the store, all employees were required to declare any personal possessions that they were bringing onto the property. Employees were then searched upon leaving the premises. Employees who were found with items that had not been declared were required to produce the sales receipt for the items. If an employee failed to do so it was presumed that the they had stolen the item from the store, and would be subject to dismissal. Read More.....

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