You and Your Rights: Expanded Public Works Programmes

Summary

  • EPWP workers are employed on a temporary or contract basis
  • Except for when performing emergency work, EPWP workers must have at least two days off of work each week
  • An employer may not allow an employee to pay the employer, or any other individual, for giving him or her employment
  • Workers must use all protective equipment provided them by their employers
  • If a worker fails to show up for three consecutive days without providing notice, or misses any training sessions without good reason, his or her contract will be terminated

Your Rights

What are "expanded public works programmes"?

EPWP’s are work programmes that provide public or community assets or services through a labour intensive programme initiated by government and funded from public resources. The EPWP was launched in April 2004 to promote economic growth and create sustainable development. In essence, it aims to provide poverty and income relief by providing temporary work for the unemployed on projects of social benefit.

Phase two of the EPWP was launched in April 2009. The intention is to create 1.5 million work opportunities by 2014.

In November 2010, the Labour department published a ministerial determination in relation to EPWP’s which establishes conditions of employment and rates of pay for all employees involved with the programmes.

What kind of projects and programmes are included in EPWP’s?

  • Environment and Culture Sector Programmes, including: Working for Water, Working on Fire, Working for Wetlands, People and Parks, Working for Energy, Working for Woodlands, Working for the Coast, Landcare, Working on Waste, Working for Tourism, Investing in Culture Programmes.
  • Infrastructure Sector Programmes and Projects declared part of EPWP which may include the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of: rural and low-volume roads, storm-water drains, water reticulation, basic sanitation, footpaths, sidewalks, bicycle paths, schools and clinics.
  • Social Sector Programmes including Early Childhood Development, Home, Community Based Care, Community Safety and other community based programmes.
  • All projects and programmes accessing the EPWP wage incentive including those implemented by Non Governmental organisations (NGO) and Community Based Organisations (CBO) and the Community Works Programme.
  • Any other programme deemed to be part of the EPWP as determined by the Department of Public Works

Does the Basic Conditions of Employment Act apply to EPWP’s?

Not all the sections of the Act apply although there are standard terms and conditions for workers employed on EPWP’s (see below). The sections of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act that are EXCLUDED from EPWP’s are:

  • Section 10(2)                 [Overtime rate]
  • 3.2 Section 14(3)           [Remuneration required for meal intervals of longer than 75 minutes]
  • Section 29(h) to (p)        [Written particulars of employment]
  • Section 30                     [Display of employee's rights]
  • Section 41                     [Severance pay]
  • Section 37                     [Notice of termination]
  • Sections 51 - 58            [Sectoral Determinations]

PLEASE NOTE: The terms and conditions below do NOT apply to persons employed in the supervision and management of an EPWP.

Terms of Work

Workers on an EPWP are employed on a temporary or contract basis.

Normal Hours of Work

An employer may not set tasks or hours of work that require a worker to work:

  • more than forty hours in any week;
  • on more than five days in any week; and
  • for more than eight hours on any day.

An employer and worker may agree that a worker will work four days per week. The worker may then work up to ten hours per day.

A task-rated worker (a worker paid on the basis of the number of tasks completed) may not work more than a total of 55 hours in any week to complete the tasks allocated (based on a 40-hour week) to that worker.

Meal Breaks

A worker may not work for more than five hours without taking a meal break of at least thirty minutes.

An employer and worker may agree on longer meal breaks.

A worker may not work during a meal break. However, an employer may require a worker to perform duties during a meal break if those duties cannot be left unattended and cannot be performed by another worker. An employer must take reasonable steps to ensure that a worker is relieved of his or her duties during the meal break.

A worker is not entitled to payment for the period of a meal break. However, a worker who is paid on the basis of time worked must be paid if the worker is required to work or to be available for work during the meal break.

Special Conditions for Security Guards

A security guard may work up to 55 hours per week and up to eleven hours per day.

A security guard who works more than ten hours per day must have a meal break of at least one hour or two breaks of at least 30 minutes each.

Daily Rest Period

Every worker is entitled to a daily rest period of at least twelve consecutive hours. The daily rest period is measured from the time the worker ends work on one day until the time the worker starts work on the next day.

Weekly Rest Period

Every worker must have two days off every week. A worker may only work on their day off to perform work which must be done without delay and cannot be performed by workers during their ordinary hours of work ("emergency work'').

Work on Sundays and Public Holidays

A worker may only work on a Sunday or public holiday to perform emergency or security work.

A task-rated worker who works on a public holiday must be paid:

  • the worker's daily task rate, if the worker works for less than four hours;
  • double the worker's daily task rate, if the worker works for more than four hours.

A time-rated worker (a worker paid on the basis of the length of time worked) who works on a public holiday must be paid:

  • the worker's daily rate of pay, if the worker works for less than four hours on the public holiday;
  • double the worker's daily rate of pay, if the worker works for more than four hours on the public holiday.

Sick leave

Only workers who work more than 24 hours per month have the right to claim sick-pay.

A worker who is unable to work on account of illness or injury is entitled to claim one day's paid sick leave for every full month that the worker has worked in terms of a contract.

A worker may accumulate a maximum of twelve days' sick leave in a year.

Accumulated sick-leave may not be transferred from one contract to another contract.

An employer must pay the worker's daily task rate for a day's sick leave and this should be paid on the worker's usual payday

Before paying sick-pay, an employer may require a worker to produce a medical certificate stating that the worker was unable to work on account of sickness or injury if the worker is:

  • absent from work for more than two consecutive days; or
  • absent from work on more than two occasions in any eight-week period.

The medical certificate must be issued and signed by a medical practitioner, a qualified nurse or a clinic staff member authorised to issue medical certificates indicating the duration and reason for incapacity.

A worker is not entitled to paid sick-leave for a work-related injury or occupational disease for which the worker can claim compensation under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

Maternity Leave

A worker may take up to four consecutive months' unpaid maternity leave.

A worker is not entitled to any payment or employment-related benefits during maternity leave.

A worker must give her employer reasonable notice of when she will start maternity leave and when she will return to work

A worker is not required to take the full period of maternity leave. However, a worker may not work for four weeks before the expected date of birth of her child or for six weeks after the birth of her child, unless a medical practitioner, midwife or qualified nurse certifies that she is fit to do so

A worker may begin maternity leave four weeks before the expected date of birth.

  • She can begin her maternity leave earlier than this if a medical practitioner, midwife or certified nurse certifies that it is necessary for the health of the worker or that of her unborn child; or if agreed to between employer and worker.
  • She can begin her maternity leave later than four weeks before the expected birth if a medical practitioner, midwife or certified nurse has certified that the worker is able to continue to work without endangering her health.

A worker who has a miscarriage during the third trimester of pregnancy or bears a stillborn child may take maternity leave for up to six weeks after the miscarriage or stillbirth.

Family responsibility leave

Workers, who work for at least four days per week, are entitled to three days paid family responsibility leave each year in the following circumstances:

  • when the employee's child is born;
  • when the employee's child is sick;
  • in the event of a death of the employee's spouse or life partner; the employee's parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild or sibling.

Statement of Conditions

An employer must give a worker a statement containing the following details at the start of employment

  • the employer's name and address and the name of the EPWP;
  • the tasks or job that the worker is to perform; and
  • the period for which the worker is hired or, if this is not certain, the expected duration of the contract;
  • the worker's rate of pay and how this is to be calculated;
  • the training that the worker will receive during the EPWP.

An employer must ensure that these terms are explained in a suitable language to any employee who is unable to read the statement.

An employer must supply each worker with a copy of these conditions of employment.

Keeping Records

Every employer must keep a written record of at least the following:

  • the worker's name and position;
  • copy of an acceptable worker identification
  • in the case of a task-rated worker, the number of tasks completed by the worker;
  • in the case of a time-rated worker, the time worked by the worker;
  • payments made to each worker.

The employer must keep this record for a period of at least three years after the completion of the EPWP.

Payment

There is NO national (statutory) Minimum Wage in South Africa. However, the Minister of Labour can set minimum terms and conditions of employment, including Minimum Wages.

Ministerial sectoral determinations are in place in for EPWP’s. Under the sectoral determination, a worker may not be paid less than the minimum EPWP wage rate of R60.00 per day or per task. This will be annually adjusted in-line with inflation.

An employer must pay all wages at least monthly in cash or by cheque or into a bank account.

A task-rated worker will only be paid for tasks that have been completed. An employer must pay a task-rated worker within five weeks of the work being completed and the work having been approved by the manager or the contractor having submitted an invoice to the employer.

A time-rated worker will be paid at the end of each month. Payment must be made in cash, by cheque or by direct deposit into a bank account designated by the worker.

Payment in cash or by cheque must take place

  • at the workplace or at a place agreed to by the worker;
  • during the worker's working hours or within fifteen minutes of the start or finish of work;
  • in a sealed envelope which becomes the property of the worker.

An employer must give a worker the following information in writing:

  • the period for which payment is made;
  • the numbers of tasks completed or hours worked;
  • the worker's earnings;
  • any money deducted from the payment;
  • the actual amount paid to the worker.

If the worker is paid in cash or by cheque, this information must be recorded on the envelope and the worker must acknowledge receipt of payment by signing for it.

If a worker's employment is terminated, the employer must pay all monies owing to that worker within one month of the termination of employment.

Deductions

An employer may not deduct money from a worker's payment unless the deduction is required in terms of a law.

An employer must deduct and pay to the SA Revenue Services any income tax that the worker is required to pay

An employer who deducts money from a worker's pay for payment to another person, must pay the money over within the time period and other requirements specified in the agreement law, court order or arbitration award concerned.

An employer may not require or allow a worker to:

  • repay any payment except an overpayment previously made by the employer by mistake;
  • state that the worker received a greater amount of money than the employer actually paid to the worker; or
  • pay the employer or any other person for giving them employment.

Health and Safety

Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the working environment is healthy and safe.

A worker must:

  • work in a way that does not endanger his/her health and safety or that of any other person;
  • obey any health and safety instruction;
  • obey all health and safety rules of the EPWP;
  • use any personal protective equipment or clothing issued by the employer;
  • report any accident, near-miss incident or dangerous behaviour by another person to their employer or manager.

Compensation for Injuries and Diseases

It is the responsibility of the employers (other than a contractor) to arrange for all persons employed on a EPWP to be covered in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 130 of 1993.

A worker must report any work-related injury or occupational disease to their employer or manager. The employer must report the accident or disease to the Compensation Commissioner.

An employer must pay a worker who is unable to work because of an injury caused by an accident at work 75% of their earnings for up to three months.

The employer will be refunded this amount by the Compensation Commissioner. This does NOT apply to injuries caused by accidents outside the workplace such as road accidents or accidents at home.

Termination

The employer may terminate the employment of a worker for good cause after following a fair procedure.

A worker will not receive severance pay on termination.

A worker is not required to give notice to terminate employment. However, a worker who wishes to resign should advise the employer in advance to allow the employer to find a replacement.

A worker who is absent for more than three consecutive days without informing the employer of an intention to return to work will have terminated the contract. However, the worker may be re-engaged if a position becomes available.

A worker who does not attend required training events, without good reason, will have terminated the contract. However, the worker may be re-engaged if a position becomes available.

Certificate of Service

On termination of employment, a worker is entitled to a certificate stating:

  • the worker's full name;
  • the name and address of the employer;
  • the EPWP on which the worker worked;
  • the work performed by the worker;
  • any training received by the worker as part of the EPWP;
  • the period for which the worker worked on the EPWP;
  • any other information agreed on by the employer and worker.

Useful Contacts:

Department of Labour

Tel: 012-309 4000

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web: www.labour.gov.za