Selected developments in South African Labour Legislation related to persons with disabilities
In South Africa marginalised groups have historically been afforded legislative protection in order to ensure that the rights of these groups are respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled. Examples of two such groups are older persons, whose rights are provided for in terms of the Older Persons Act 13 of 2006 and children, whose rights are provided for in terms of the Children's Act 38 of 2005. Persons with disabilities have, however, not yet been the subject of dedicated legislation outlining the content of the rights to which they are entitled. As a result of this lack of dedicated legislation, the rights of persons with disabilities are dealt with in a piecemeal fashion, often in disparate pieces of legislation.
In addition to this focus on the rights of persons with disabilities, South African labour law has recently undergone extensive amendments. These amendments have led to the rights of persons with disabilities in the workplace being affected substantially. Since these amendments are as yet untested, little scrutiny of these provisions and the effect they may have on persons with disabilities has been undertaken. This article will thus discuss selected amendments of the labour legislation, and interrogate the practical effect these amendments may have on the rights of such persons. Of particular importance for the purposes of this article is the updating of an existing institution known as Sheltered Employment Factories, as well as the introduction of harsher penalties for employers who remain non-compliant with certain provisions of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998.
Keywords: Labour legislation; disability; human rights; employment equity; unemployment; sheltered employment factories