A labour court in Pretoria heard a dispute between a merchandiser of fashion accessories and a former employee, who resigned from work due to a salary cut after the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the outbreak, all the employees of the seller worked reduced hours under a reduced salary. Every employee agreed to such scheme. However, after the end of the lockdowns, employees were asked once again to work full hours but for a salary amounting to 75% of the salary earned before the pandemic. The plaintiff refused this arrangement. The employer refused to give a timeline about the end of the arrangement and refused to make exceptions for the plaintiff. As the plaintiff proposed to earn 75% of the previous wage for 75% of working hours, the employer refused and told that 75% of working hours would have paid with 75% of the reduced pay (i.e. 75% of the 75% of the original wage). After the negotiations failed, the plaintiff resigned and filed a claim before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) arguing that the wage policy of the employer had resulted in her constructive dismissal, i.e. a resignation caused by the creation, by the employer, of unbearable conditions on the workplace. The CCMA had upheld the plaintiff’s arguments and had ordered the employer to pay six months of salary as compensation.

The labour court of Pretoria confirmed the CCMA decision, ruling that the plaintiff had indeed been forced to resign due to the conditions created by the employer.

(Retrieved on 7 December 2022)

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