This article was written by Jonathan Jones, an associate at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that an employer must provide new employees with written particulars of employment. The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, on the other hand, recognises that data communications, such as email or SMS, are the legal equivalent of written communications. Employers therefore comply with the BCEA when providing written particulars of employment through an electronic communication. Despite this, most employers still prefer to avoid disputes by ensuring that the conditions of employment are reduced to writing on paper and signed.
The BCEA similarly provides that letters of termination, which includes letters of resignation, must be in writing. Again, to avoid disputes that may arise from an employee resigning in the heat of the moment via SMS or email, many employers now require that a letter of resignation must be signed as well.
The judgement of the SCA in this matter allows employers an opportunity to reconsider how they want to regulate and avoid disputes relating to written particulars of employment and letters of termination.