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Johan Botes

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Johan Botes heads Baker McKenzie’s Employment & Compensation Practice Group in Johannesburg. Johan is experienced in employment law and labor relations, focusing on South African and sub-Saharan African employment law and employee relations. He regularly advises multinational clients on industrial relations, employment negotiations, labor dispute resolution, change management, and organizational restructuring. His team manages multijurisdictional employment and employee relations projects on behalf of various multinational clients.

The Constitutional Court in South Africa recently clarified the application of the doctrine of common purpose in the employment law context. The Constitutional Court answered the question as to whether an employer may apply the doctrine of common purpose to dismiss employees for misconduct where the employees were spectators to a violent assault during an unprotected strike. This decision has implications for employers who intend to dismiss employees for these reasons.

In our four-part Navigating the World webinar series, US moderators welcomed colleagues from around the globe to share the latest labor and employment law updates and trends impacting US-based multinational employers with business operations in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific, including:
• the impact of the current social and political climate on multinational employers
• New significant legislative developments
• Inclusion and diversity (I&D) advancements and trends
• Best practices for a flexible workforce, addressing remote and hybrid work

The settlement of employment disputes include, as standard practice, the addition of a confidentiality clause to settlement agreements. However, what happens when an employee breaches such an agreement by disclosing confidential information during legal proceedings or where the information pertains to wrongdoing by the employer? The Labor Appeal Court in South Africa recently considered this matter.

Join Baker McKenzie for a four-part webinar series as US moderators welcome colleagues from around the globe to share the latest labor and employment law updates and trends. US-based multinational employers with business operations in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific regions will hear directly from local practitioners on the major developments they need to know, and come away with practical tips and takeaways to implement.

The Minister of Employment and Labour in South Africa has recently published three important legal developments affecting South African employers and employees – the Draft National Labour Migration Policy and Employment Services Amendment Bill, the Code of Practice for Managing Exposure to Sars-CoV-2 in the Workplace 2022, and the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace.

Slapping a colleague at an event is grounds for dismissal in most jurisdictions. Employee conduct at social gatherings and events generally does not escape the reach of their employer’s right to discipline and terminate for cause. In South Africa, the recently published Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace (“Code”) guides employers and employees in managing harassment at work and clarifies that the use of physical force or power is a form of harassment, albeit not its only manifestation.

The Labor Appeal Court in South Africa recently considered the binding nature of confidentiality agreements in the workplace. Both employers and employees should note that the courts will consider each case on its merit and will consider the scope and reach of the agreement, and the substance of any disclosure that breaches this undertaking.

The Labor Court in South Africa was recently tasked with reviewing the conduct of a CCMA commissioner, whose role was to discern the appropriateness of employment-related conduct during an employment tribunal. The review court had to determine whether the commissioner had committed misconduct by acting in a manner that undermined the integrity of dispute resolution process. Such commissioners have a duty to exercise sound judgement and must behave in a way that is beyond reproach to ensure fair labor practices in South Africa.

Conservatively estimated, one in four women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace at some stage during their working lifespan. The personal toll on these women – and those around them who deal with the secondary effects – is immense. The psychological impact of such harassment and victimization cannot be overstated. A recent study has undertaken the mammoth task of calculating the financial cost to women who are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The findings are not only shocking but serve as a grim reminder that our quest for gender equality must incorporate actions aimed at eradicating sexual harassment as a main driver of workplace inequality.

The recent unrest and looting in South Africa have had a severe impact on businesses and employers in the country. Such businesses have had to address urgent issues including concerns regarding insurance cover, invoking force majeure clauses, ensuring employee health and safely, assisting affected or stranded employees and implementing disciplinary action for employees caught taking part in the looting.