Employment in South Africa

Bowmans

Bowmans has one of the largest teams in the market, furnished with some of the most experienced employment specialists in South Africa. The team has experienced growth in transactions, investigations and employee risk issues, and has added executive compensation specialist Martin Hopkins to the Johannesburg group. Robin Carr is a prominent figure in employment litigation, Graham Damant is hugely experienced in the management of industrial relations, restructuring and retrenchments, transfers of business and dismissals. Karen Fulton is a recognised expert on labour law the financial services industry contexts and Cape Town's Chris Todd is at the forefront of business transfers and collective bargaining.

Practice head(s):

Lusanda Raphulu

Other key lawyers:

Martin Hopkins; Robin Carr; Graham Damant; Karen Fulton; Chris Todd; Talita Laubscher

Testimonials

‘Availability and responsiveness, understanding of our business and practical and pragmatic approach.’

‘Availability, knowledge and going the extra mile. Willingness to consider fee reductions.’

‘Very strong employment law team that complement each other. Karen Fulton is my go-to person for employment law advice.’

‘Karen Fulton makes herself available day or night and provides clear and decisive advice.’

Key clients

Old Mutual

Pick n Pay Supply Chain

City of Johannesburg

Anglo American Platinum

Alexander Forbes

National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry

Eskom

Barloworld

UNISA (University of South Africa)

Work highlights

  • Advised Old Mutual on dismissal of Peter Moyo, where alleged conflict of interest by chief executive resulted in breakdown in board’s trust and confidence in the executive.
  • Advised the City of Johannesburg on its response to strike action in its emergency services units, where employees went on strike around mid-2019, causing significant disruption to operations.
  • Advised Lanxess on the impact of illegal strike action on its sale of its 74% shareholding in Lanxess Chrome Holdings to Chrome Production Holdings.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has gained considerable market recognition, both from the public and private sector. Financial services, mining and transportation are key sectors of activity for the team. The practice covers contentious and non-contentious employment law, workplace health and safety, immigration, and also pensions. The group is also at the forefront of anticorruption-related matters. Department head Aadil Patel has achieved additional prominence through a series of notable instructions, and Hugo PienaarGillian Lumb and mining sector specialist Fiona Leppan are also key members of the team. The firm further expanded the group with the hire of Imraan Mahomed and a team from Lawtons Africa in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Aadil Patel

Other key lawyers:

Hugo Pienaar; Gillian Lumb; Fiona Leppan; Jose Jorge; Anli Bezuidenhoudt; Imraan Mahomed  

Testimonials

‘The team is extremely responsive to clientss needs and deadlines, and are able to give urgent turnaround to instructions. The quality of the advice is excellent, which is very practical and commercially sound.’

‘Ability to advise on complex matters whilst unpacking the issues succinctly. Good value for money. Valuable and regular value adds to clients.’

‘Aadil Patel is client focused, delivers consistent excellent service, commercially sound legal advice, ability to simplify complex legal and factual issues and offers practical solutions, clear identification of potential risk and offers pragmatic risk mitigation measures.’

Gillian Lumb delivers consistent excellent service and clear identification of potential risk and offers pragmatic risk mitigation measures. Presents legal training for a wide client audience as a value add. She is a seasoned employment lawyer and has a collaborative approach.

What makes Hugo Pienaar so unique in his field of expertise is not only his exceptional knowledge of labour law, but also his kindness and humility. He connects with his clients on a personal level and has the gift to come up with solutions for legal problems that are legally sound and commercial viable.

‘Jose Jorge is a practical lawyer, who works hard to find solutions.’

Jose Jorge is always up to speed with what is happening in our matters, and is very responsive. It gives us confidence that the quality of work will be what we expect from the firm and lawyer in question.

Anli Bezuidenhoudt is one of the best attorneys I have worked with. She simplifies matters and does not take a legalistic approach to an enquiry. She listens to the evidence and then makes a recommendation which assists the employer to practically implement certain measures.

Key clients

Uber

City of Cape Town

Old Mutual

Nedbank

Coca-Cola

Clover

Unitrans

South African Broadcasting Corporation

Dischem Pharmacies

Naspers

South African Revenue Service (SARS)

Sun International

Veolia Environment

Anglo American

Standard Bank

The Petroleum, Oil & Gas Corporation of SA

Transnet

Nissan Motor Company

Samsung Electronics South Africa

Public Investment Corporation

Shoprite Holdings

Omnia Holdings

Industrial Development Corporation Of South Africa

Work highlights

  • Advised Dischem Pharmacies in bringing a first-of-its-kind application to the Labour Court to have the right to picketing by its employees suspended during a protected strike.
  • Represented Nampak in a Labour Court trial, initially involving 2,230 employees who disputed the capping of employer contributions to the post-retirement medical aid benefits on the grounds that Nampak had acted unlawfully and had committed an unfair labour practice.
  • Acted for Uber in all of its South African employment law issues, including obtaining a ground-breaking judgment before the Labour Court that its drivers are not employees of Uber SA.

ENSafrica

ENSafrica has a large team, operating across every key element of the employment sphere. The size of the team has enabled the firm to target multiple industries and it has achieved additional growth in aviation, mining, retail and financial services. Telecoms is another key sector for the group. Department head Brian Patterson has an immense record in landmark matters, including matters with questions of constitutional rights. Cape Town's Stuart Harrison, and Johannesburg executives Ross AlcockDion Masher and Fritz Malan are also highly rated.

Practice head(s):

Brian Patterson

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Harrison; Ross Alcock; Dion Masher; Fritz Malan; Peter le Roux; Joe Mothibi; Muzi Khoza; Jan Norval

Testimonials

‘Proactive, strategic and value-adding legal counsel.’

‘The team is very professional and have the necessary resources and knowledge to assist with situations that require urgent attention and action.’

‘The individuals have an in depth knowledge of our business and the challenges we face. They are readily available and are very approachable. ’

‘Muzi Khoza is simply sensational. A true trusted advisor who is available 24/7 for his clients. He never leaves the client disappointed and always goes the extra mile to ensure that the client is at ease and comfortable.’ 

Key clients

ABSA

AngloGold Ashanti

Comair

Distell

Eskom

Golden Arrow Bus Services

Independent Regulatory Board For Auditors

Juta & Company

Life Healthcare Group

Massmart

Minerals Council South Africa

Oracle

Public Investment Corporation

South African Airways

South African Revenue Services

Work highlights

  • Representing South African Airways in constitutional challenges on  both the Labour Court and the High Court relating to the validity and lawfulness of certain collective wage agreements entered into with the Pilots Union.
  • Represented the Public Investment Corporation of South Africa in the high-profile disciplinary cases of former officials who were involved in and facilitated the irregular investment in Ayo Technologies.
  • Representing the Independent Regulatory Board For Auditors in relation to the prosecution of the auditors relating to ten allegations of professional misconduct, including dishonesty.

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel is at the forefront of the employment sector, handling some of the biggest-ticket and headline matters in South Africa. It continues to be noted for its prominence in mining sector matters, though has genuine expertise across multiple industries including consumer and retail, sports and financial services. The team has experienced an uptick in strategic advice linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and has represented clients in a series of corruption-related court applications. Johan Olivier leads the team and is a leading figure in mining employment issues, including matters regarding strikes. Nick RobbPamela Stein and Lizle Louw are also senior employment practitioners, while Dhevarsha Ramjettan is rated for consumer and retail expertise, and Eugene Phajane for mining sector matters.

Practice head(s):

Johan Olivier

Other key lawyers:

Nick Robb; Pamela Stein; Lizle Louw; Dhevarsha Ramjettan; Eugene Phajane; Kirsten Eiser; Mpumelelo Nxumalo; Jessica Braum; Nivaani Moodley 

Testimonials

‘Professionalism is key. Having a one stop practice with access to all aspects of law is fantastic. ’

‘The standout employment partners are Nick Robb and Pam Stein who have many years of experience and an excellent reputation in employment law.’

‘Nick Robb, in particular, displays great judgement in matters and is a skilled litigator. I hold him in high regard.’

‘Johan Olivier knows the mining industry very well. He is conversant with industry collective agreements and readily available after hours and over weekends and pubic holidays.’

‘Lizle Louw also knows the mining industry very well. She is very competent in drafting appropriate correspondence to trade unions in anticipation of possible litigation.’ 

Eugene Phajane has good interpersonal skills and he always puts himself in the shoes of the client.’

Key clients

Anglo American Platinum

Harmony Gold Mining Company

Impala Platinum

Royal Bafokeng Platinum

Mobile Telephone Networks

South African Airways Pilots Association

Ferrero South Africa

Microsoft

Ivanplats

Primedia

Work highlights

  • Acted for Royal Bafokeng Platinum in a landmark Constitutional Court case concerning the principle of majoritarianism in collective labour law in South Africa.
  • Represented a number of mining houses in a landmark secondary strike case organised by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
  • Advised the South African Pilots Association throughout the business rescue proceedings at South African Airways.

Fasken

Fasken's highly specialised team has made rapid progress in key areas including employment, pensions, employee benefits, immigration, and occupational health and safety law. Strikes, mass dismissals and collective bargaining are particular fortes for the team. Its impressive client base now features a range of prominent private and public sector clients. Paul Fouche is highly rated for health and safety law, merger-related matters and employee benefits. Ludwig Frahm-Arp is a key figure in employment disputes and Melanie Hart is noted for collective bargaining and strike management disputes. Rosemary Hunter contributes specialist pensions expertise.

Practice head(s):

Paul Fouche

Other key lawyers:

Ludwig Frahm-Arp; Melanie Hart; Rosemary Hunter 

Key clients

Bayer

SPX DB Thermal

EIE Industrial Equipment Group

Sandvik Mining and Constructions

MA Automotive Tool and Die & IG Tooling and Light Engineering

Medtronic Africa (

DiaSorin

Heineken

AngloGold Ashanti

Lear Corporation

McCain Foods

General Electric trading as Alstom S&E

Public Investment Corporation

Lanxess

Normet Africa

Tencent Africa

CWDi

Alternative Prosperity Holdings

eTradex w

Work highlights

  • Advised Bayer on all employment aspects of its merger with Monsanto merger, including the transfer of employees in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.
  • Advised AngloGold Ashanti on a campaign of secondary strike action called for by the AMCU across the mining industry.
  • Successfully Medtronic Africa in four applications to enforce restraint of trade applications in the Labour Court.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc is active in both public and private sectors, notably prominent in the retail, fast-moving consumables, vehicle manufacturing and higher education sectors. Strong in contentious and non-contentious matters, the team is also growing force in cross-border engagements. Mohammed Chavoos is recommended for business restructurings, business transfers, outsourcing and retrenchments. Cape Town's Jason Whyte is noted for employment litigation and Durban-based department head Murray Alexander is rated for business restructurings, retrenchments and collective bargaining.

Practice head(s):

Murray Alexander

Other key lawyers:

Mohammed Chavoos; Jason Whyte; Brian Denny; Karen Ainslie; Verushka Reddy

Testimonials

‘Always very professional, but at the same time engagements with them are not too formal. They know our business very well and have a wealth of knowledge. Great updates and constant communication with the client while navigating through matters.’

‘They pulled all the stops to ensure that we get the best legal service in difficult and complicated cases.’

‘Mohammed Chavoos is a very skilled lawyer and has in-depth knowledge, applying labour law both at the legal and business level. He is able to coach, guide and lead business managers at a strategic level to critically execute with the right outcome.’

‘Verushka Reddy’s work is at the top level and very thorough. Communication with us is excellent. She is always just a call away and always able and willing to assist.’

‘Murray Alexander is excellent, hugely accommodating, very professional and is always able to find a solution.’

Key clients

TVision and S Child

Hillside Aluminium

National Brands

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)

South African Custodial Management Services (SACM)

Thales South Africa Systems

Pioneer Foods

Astron Energy

Tiger Brands

Libstar Operations

Work highlights

  • Advised Hillside Aluminium concerned alleged contravention of the company’s code of conduct, including allegations related to a number of work orders for maintenance work being done at inflated prices or not done at all.
  • Assisted Thales South Africa Systems and its French holding company with the restructure of its South African operations and merger with Gemalto.
  • Advised Pioneer Foods on a dispute with the Food and Allied Workers Union regarding labour broking provisions.

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Attorneys' sizeable team covers employment, health and safety, and pensions. It has a particularly established record in disputes and transaction-related matters, including outsourcing arrangements. Much of the practice centres on multinationals with South African operations, often dealing with executive terminations, employee-related disputes and the restructuring of local operations. Department head Anastasia Vatalidis is highly rated for employment engagements related to corporate transactions and restructurings.

Practice head(s):

Anastasia Vatalidis

Other key lawyers:

Bradley Workman-Davies; Jacques van Wyk; Sandile July

Key clients

Adcock Ingram Healthcare and Adcock Ingram Healthcare

Siemens

Eli Lilly

Worley Parsons RSA

Aspen Pharmacare

Investec

Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN)

Puma Energy Services South Africa

Discovery Life

South African Airways

PWC

South African Reserve Bank

Steinhoff Properties and Steinhoff at Work

Tronox

Railway Safety Regulator

Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)

South African Forestry Company

PRASA Metrorail Western Cape

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

National Commissioner of SAPS (Victoria Phiyega)

Sanlam Life Insurance

Gauteng Office of the Premier

AON

Astral Operations

APL Cartons

Oppenheimer Generations Custodian SA

Gautrain Management Agency

Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)

City of Johannesburg

Work highlights

  • Advised Siemens in respect of all employment-related aspects of its global carve-out of its gas and power business to form a separate legal entity.
  • Advised the business rescue practitioners on all aspects of employment matters relating to the business rescue of Group 5 Construction.
  • Advised Astron on the employment law implications of merger conditions in respect of the making permanent of independent contractors and retrenchment of employees and the effect same would have on the prohibition on reduction of employee numbers due to redundancy.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg's compact employment practice is at the forefront of business change projects, including representing business in collective bargaining agreements and industrial relations strategies. The Johannesburg team also frequently works on the employment aspects of cross-border and multi-jurisdictional mergers. Johan Botes and the team have impressed in helping corporate clients in a series of reorganisations, transfers of business programmes and strike actions.

Practice head(s):

Johan Botes