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Employment in South Africa

Bowmans

Bowmans is one of the leading employment practices in South Africa with a large team of experienced practitioners. It provides a broad range of services from advice on employee risk issues and business transfers to dispute resolution and dismissal proceedings. This is coupled with the firm’s investment in legal technology as it implemented Kira, an artificial intelligence solution, to streamline key legal processes. Lusanda Raphulu heads the employment and benefits practice with previous experience as an acting judge in the Labour Court. Robin Carr  provides expertise in employment litigation while Graham Damant has vast experience in business transfers, restructuring and retrenchments. Karen Fulton  is a trusted adviser in the financial services sector.

Practice head(s):

Lusanda Raphulu

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘The team’s willingness and availability to always assist even on short notice. The team’s widespread knowledge base and practical experience of various scenarios is a plus’

‘The team that dealt with our matter was responsive and agile and not only supported us from a legal perspective but also helped us navigate through some of the social aspects with an appropriately skilled and diverse team that understood and could manage the dynamics we were dealing with.’

‘The team was available, flexible, responsive and always professional.’

‘The practice is comprised of outstanding individuals and in particular its leader, Karen Fulton. They are hard-working, insightful, tactically astute and customer-centric. The practice is directed at achieving the best commercial outcome for the client on the most efficient basis. It is a practice that demonstrates diversity and strong female leadership. They have an excellent grasp of the law, as one would expect from a firm at this level, however, more importantly, how to apply it practically in a given situation to reach the best outcome for the client.’

‘Karen Fulton is an excellent leader and heads up the team. Her integrity is beyond question. She has acted as a Judge which demonstrates the regard her peers and the judiciary have for her capabilities. Her commitment to the client is exemplary. She keeps her team on track providing them with the right level of supervision but to ensure the taking of initiative and individual growth.

‘The firm has an excellent labour law and employment law team. They work well together and all have significant competencies. They are able to take on large matters and have sufficient resources and depth of experience to manage this effectively. The attorneys are competent to do their own appearances and this saves time and money.’

Key clients

T-Systems International GmbH

Transnet SOC Ltd

Business 4 South Africa (B4SA)

Pick ‘n Pay Supply Chain (Pty) Ltd

Ericsson

Barloworld Limited

Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Ltd

Business Unity South Africa

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd

Standard Bank of South Africa Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised T-Systems International GmbH on the disposal by its South African subsidiaries and Intervate Solutions Proprietary Limited of their respective businesses, as going concerns to, Gijima Holdings SA Proprietary Limited including the transfer of their respective employees.
  • Acted for various trade unions, such as the Public Servants Association and National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa, in a wage dispute against the South African Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Service and Administration.
  • Assisted Business 4 South Africa in the drafting of regulations and directives during the Nedlac processes where representatives of government, business and labour engage on matters relevant to workers in South Africa.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr offers employers services in both contentious and non-contentious areas of employment law. Notably, the team has a strong track record for steering clients through interdicts of unprotected strikes, non-compliance of picketing rules and suspension of the right to picket. The firm has particular sector expertise in the mining and transport industries with high-profile clients such as Sibanye Stillwater and Uber. Practice head Aadil Patel has in-depth experience in acting for employers in both the public and private sector. Hugo Pienaar and Gillian Lumb are prominent partners in the firm. Fiona Leppan has extensive experience in litigation and employee relations.

Practice head(s):

Aadil Patel

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘Exceptional knowledge in our industry and of relevant case law. Always knowledgeable of the latest applicable case law. Adapted easily to virtual/digital client meetings and DRC arbitrations etc.’

‘The team at CDH are an exceptional team to work with. They are efficient, pro-active, extremely knowledgeable about case studies and always willing to assist. My interactions with the team have always been professional and to the point.’

‘The CDH employment team went out of their way during Covid to keep us informed of employee relevant changes to the lockdown regulations and the impact on our business.’

‘Aadil Patel ably leads the practice. He is very proactive in checking in regularly to see if assistance is required. During Covid he set up a series of calls with the HR practitioners across our Group to keep my team informed of all legal requirements.’

‘We use CDH due to the fact that service we receive is outstanding and that we get almost immediate feedback when we have any problems at the company and we have to involve our attorney.’

‘I have worked with Cliffe Dekker for many years and our experience has been fantastic. I cannot think of one time when I was disappointed.’

‘They are a very strong, diverse and ethical company. They are experts in their field and they are extremely professional.’

‘I have worked with Gillian Lumb for almost 15 years and there is no one else I would go to when it comes to employment law advice. Her demeanor and knowledge are exceptional and the rapport she builds with her clients is fantastic. Professionalism and subject matter expert ring true for me.’

Key clients

Uber

CBI-Electric Cables

CCMA

WebFleet Solutions Sales

Imperial Dedicated Contracts

Sibanye Stillwater

MIBFA

NLC

Medal Paints

Tiger Brands

Sulzer

SAAT

Move

HiP

Nedbank

Uber

CBI-Electric Cables

CCMA

WebFleet Solutions Sales

Imperial Dedicated Contracts

Sibanye Stillwater

MIBFA

NLC

Medal Paints

Tiger Brands

Sulzer

SAAT

Move

HiP

Nedbank

Work highlights

  • Advised Uber on South African employment law issues, including representing Uber in disputes with drivers and providing advice in relation to Uber’s operating model and the implications with regard to South African employment law.
  • Advised CBI-Electric Cables in relation to urgent applications brought by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa to halt a series of retrenchment processes in a major restructuring of CBI-Electric Cables’ business on the grounds of a lack of good and sufficient commercial reasons for the anticipated jobs losses.
  • Represented Sibanye Stillwater in connection with a wage dispute and a threatened sympathy strike with the union, AMCU, at various other platinum producers, in a matter that AMCU has now taken to the Constitutional Court.

ENSafrica

ENSafrica is a large multi-disciplinary employment and labour team which advises on high-level matters throughout the African continent. The firm has an increasing mandate portfolio, advising on matters in the aviation, mining retail and financial sectors. Department head Brian Patterson leads the employment team with extensive experience in navigating corporate restructuring, executive dismissals and collective disputes. Stuart Harrison has expertise in employee benefits and restraint of trade matters. Dion Masher, Ross Alcock, Joe Mothibi and Fritz Malan are notable practitioners. Jan Norval is a senior associate specialising in collective bargaining.

Practice head(s):

Brian Patterson

Other key lawyers:

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

Testimonials

‘The co-operation within the team is exceptional in terms of service provision to our company. The specialists allocated functions will respond in good time and provide an appropriate and comprehensive response on the matter at hand.’

‘My dealings with Joe Mothibi and Lauren Salt, are exceptional. Apart from that, they are always available to respond to the company’s matters at any time. The fact that my association with Joe Mothibi exceeds 30 years confirms the importance of establishing and maintaining positive relationships over many years.’

 

Key clients

Comair Limited

Independent Regulatory Board For Auditors (IRBA)

MTN Group Limited

Sasol Limited

South African Revenue Services (SARS)

Life Healthcare Group (Pty) Ltd

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd

Minerals Council South Africa

Massmart

Puma Energy Group

Edcon Limited

Golden Arrow Bus Services (Pty) Ltd (GABS)

TFG (Foschini Retail Group (Pty) Ltd

Housing Development Agency (HDA)

Transaction Capital Limited (TC)

Work highlights

  • Advised the business rescue practitioners of South African Airways and the newly appointed board of SAA after exiting business rescue on all employment and labour law matters related to the restructuring and successfully defended numerous court applications arising thereafter.
  • Assisted Transaction Capital Limited and various subsidiaries with their restructuring exercise.
  • Acted as the prosecutor on behalf of the IRBA in relation to the prosecution of two auditors from Deloitte concerning allegations of professional misconduct, including dishonesty.

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel has vast experience in employment law matters, covering occupational health and safety law through to trade union relations. The firm is valued for its sector expertise in mining, financial services, consumer and retail industries. From a Covid-19 standpoint the team has provided advice and guidance to clients on changing regulations with a focus on the implementation of mandatory vaccination policies. Lizle Louw co-heads the employment department alongside Eugene Phajane who is respected for his experience in mining matters. Kirsten Eiser is a specialised practitioner in the technology, media and telecommunications sector. Johan Olivier, Pamela Stein and Nick Robb are senior partners. Mpumelelo Nxumalo has experience in the mining sector while Nivaani Moodley is a valued partner. Jessica Braum has now left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Eugene Phajane; Lizle Louw

Other key lawyers:

Johan Olivier; Pamela Stein; Nick Robb; Dhevarsha Ramjettan; Mehnaaz Bux; Siya Ngcamu; Joon Chong; Kirsten Eiser; Mpumelelo Nxumalo

Testimonials

‘The team is collaborative, takes time to get to know their clients and are able to tailor services to a client. They are also available at short notice taking cognizance of urgency.’

‘Their knowledge of the workings, practices and trade unions operating within the mining industry certainly set them apart from other firms we deal with. They have a depth of knowledge within the team.’

‘They are readily available at any time and show genuine interest in the matters being dealt with. Their solutions and strategies are innovative when required and have assisted in getting great outcomes while maintaining relationships with our trade union stakeholders.’

‘I dealt almost exclusively with Nick Robb who is a partner and I found him to be incredible.’

‘The team is diverse, with different levels of experience, expertise and is thus able to provide the appropriate level of assistance. The firm is also able to provide an all inclusive service as labour law can not be applied in isolation for example mine health and safety law, tax law and pension law. The billing is easy to understand and to reconcile work done.’

‘Lizle Louw and her availability after hours and over weekends is commendable. She understands mining and her industry experience adds value to advice that she is able to provide. Mehnaaz Bux is extremely hardworking and takes the time to understand the problem statement and explain the legal principles applied. Siya Ngcamu is professional and has a quick turn around time while Johan Olivier is well experienced in the gold mining industry. Joon Chong knows her subject well and is willing to assist on very short notice.’

‘Very agile, highly supportive team able to align short business timelines with a great level of competence and provide clients with relevant information to enable an informed business decision making. Very professional but on the overhand are very pleasant.’

Key clients

Palabora Mining Company

Lebalelo Water Users Association

Ivanhoe Mines Limited

Rustenburg Platinum Mines Limited

Impala Platinum Limited

Marula Platinum Limited

Northam Platinum Limited

Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited

Village Main Reef Limited

South African Airways Pilots Association

Ferrero South Africa (Pty) Ltd

Northam Platinum Limited

Royal Bafokeng Platinum Limited

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.
  • Advised the South African Pilots Association throughout the business rescue proceedings at South African Airways.
  • Represented a number of mining houses in a landmark secondary strike case organised by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg combines expert knowledge of employment law across multiple jurisdictions to offer clients a comprehensive legal service. The firm has become well-known for its ability to advise on cross-border mandates in the local market. Johan Botes is the head of the employment team with experience in corporate restructurings, transfers of business and strike action.

Practice head(s):

Johan Botes

Testimonials

‘The Bakers’ employment team gives practical, commercial advice and has supported us with both strategic business planning as well as more immediate challenging employee relations issues. We have used other employment teams before but Bakers has been really excellent.’

‘Johan Botes is our go-to employment lawyer. Johan is a pleasure to work with. He is an excellent lawyer – very responsive, turns advice around quickly, is commercial in his approach, understands our business and is extremely personable too. Johan Botes is in a different league to others we have dealt with in the market. The whole client experience is far superior.’

‘Being part of a global firm, the local team is often aware of what is happening globally as most corporates experience the same or similar things. It helps that there is already some understanding which certainly gives the firm an advantage. The team is properly resourced, I don’t feel that I am paying for the firm to upskill junior staff when I get the bill. When the lockdown started, the team was able to easily adapt to engaging us virtually.’

‘Johan has a true passion for labour law which comes through in everything he does. He is one of the most, if not the most, compassionate, knowledgeable and communicative lawyer I have the privilege of working with. Labour law is not as straight-forward as other sectors, however, Johan has the ability to take a complex matter or issue and break it down into little pieces, making it far more manageable. Johan is pragmatic and realistic. He understands the environments in which his various clients operate and this is simply through him continuing to ask questions and learn about his clients. He’s completely open and brutally honest about the success or weaknesses of a matter. While all lawyers are fundamentally communicators, Johan takes it a level far above the average. His articles are informative and to the point, which shows that he is a subject matter expert. Whether he is communicating in a formal document, an informal email, round table discussions or private conversations, his communication and listening skills are second to none. It is not often that you find a lawyer of Johan’s seniority willing to take the time to listen to the issue at hand and not either make an assumption or palm the issue off onto a junior. He focuses on what is important. He has the ability to take the storm out of the teacup and resolve the issue swiftly, striving for the best outcome for all parties. He is without doubt, a top class lawyer and a lawyer of choice.’

Fasken

Fasken is a firm with notable employment expertise in areas such as occupational health, pensions, employee benefits and immigration. The team have been successful in assisting employers to navigate through the various regulatory developments brought about due to the pandemic. Paul Fouche, who heads the employment team, has extensive experience in the resolution of labour disputes including dismissals and collective bargaining issues. Ludwig Frahm-Arp is a recognised employment and pension lawyer, as is Rosemary Hunter.

Practice head(s):

Paul Fouche

Other key lawyers:

Ludwig Frahm-Arp; Rosemary Hunter; Andi Michalow

Testimonials

‘Pragmatic approach to labour legislation backed up by expert technical legal knowledge.’

‘Experienced with a comprehensive understanding of our business model and associate risks. Great understanding of macro risks.’

‘From a labour law perspective: team is highly professional and knowledgeable. Great team spirit and deliver sound legal advice. Client interest comes first no matter what time or day. Billing is competitive.’

‘Paul Fouche has strong leadership skills and is highly knowledgeable in labour law matters. Andi Michalow is a passionate hard worker, engaging and efficient with package delivery.’

‘Exceptional.’

Key clients

Bayer (Pty) Ltd

SPX DB Thermal

EIE Industrial Equipment Group

Sandvik Mining and Constructions (Pty) Ltd

General Electric

Novartis (Pty) Ltd

Medtronic Africa (Pty) Ltd

Heineken

Lear Corporation

Lanxess (Pty) Ltd

Global Trade Solutions

Air Liquide (Pty) Ltd

The Motor Industries Fund Administrators

Purveyors South Africa Mine Services (Pty) Ltd

University of the Witwatersrand

Enterprises University of Pretoria

Mandela Mining Precinct

Ranbaxy SA (Pty) Ltd

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Public Investment Corporation in disciplining 22 employees arising out of misconduct in relation to the transactions with AYO Technologies and VBS Mutual Bank.
  • Supported the National Pensions Regulatory Authority Phase II Ghana by reviewing and conducting a ‘gap analysis’ of the current regulatory framework for the regulation and supervision of retirement funds in Ghana.
  • Advised Air Liquide on all aspects of the purchase of Sasol’s Oxygen Production Plant in Secunda, including negotiating and preparing the employee transfer agreement, consulting with the affected trade unions and managing multiple ancillary employment issues arising from the transfer of hundreds of employees.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc is a prominent firm with multiple offices across the country and is recognised for handling contentious and advisory issues in employment law. The firm operates across a number of sectors, acting for clients including Volvo and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa. Durban-based Murray Alexander heads the employment and labour team with experience in issues such as collective bargaining and strikes. Mohammed Chavoos, working out of Johannesburg, is a key partner with expertise in business restructurings and transfers while Cape Town-based Jason Whyte is active in employment litigation.

Practice head(s):

 

Murray Alexander

Other key lawyers:

 

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

 

Testimonials

‘Verushka Reddy is a very knowledgeable and tough negotiator’

‘We have been dealing in the main with Murray Alexander who has an outstanding grasp of employment matters and has guided us through many tricky situations. His ability to analyse, reflect and give advice on issues has been tremendous and is given with insight and wisdom. His exposure to various industries has helped us gain a perspective on labour matters which assisted in keeping our workforce under control.’

‘Mohammed Chavoos is highly knowledgeable and competent in labour law. They are always calm and accommodative as and when their services are needed. Unlike their competitors, they are always available to their clients day and night including over the weekend. They are always attentive and professional in all their interactions with their clients. They have won all the cases where they represented our company in the different courts (High Courts and the Constitutional Court) including the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).’

‘Exceptional depth of experience, sound advice resulting in successful outcomes and exceptional client engagement’

Key clients

National Brands Limited

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC)

Mondi South Africa (Pty) Ltd

City of Cape Town

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

Kensani Corrections Management (Pty) Ltd (Kensani)

South African Custodial Management (Pty) Ltd

AB Volvo (publ)

Anova Health

Libstar Operations (Pty) Ltd

The Commission for Gender Equality

Work highlights

  • Advised National Brands Limited and represented the company in the Labour Court in relation to unprotected employee strikes in the Entyce Durban Tea Factory.
  • Represented Mondi South Africa (Pty) Ltd in the Labour Court and brought an application to interdict unlawful conduct and prevent further breaches of the picketing rules.  
  • Advised on a long running dispute in a local government concerning the application of a collective agreement regulating disciplinary action and concluded the agreement before the South African Local Government Bargaining Council.  

Werksmans Attorneys

The labour and employment team at Werksmans Attorneys has a robust record in advising corporate clients on employment issues such as health and safety and pensions, with a focus on contentious work. A significant proportion of the work undertaken by the team involves advising multinational clients on the appointment and termination of executives and restructuring of local operations. Anastasia Vatalidis  is the head of the labour and employment practice, with particular expertise in dispute resolution and issues relating to corporate transactions and restructurings.

Practice head(s):

Anastasia Vatalidis

Other key lawyers:

Sandile July; Jacques van Wyk; Bradley Workman-Davies

Key clients

Adcock Ingram Healthcare Proprietary Limited

Siemens AG

Eli Lilly SA Proprietary Limited

Worley RSA Proprietary Limited

Aspen Pharmacare Proprietary Limited

Investec Limited

Mobile Telephone Networks

Puma Energy Services South Africa

Discovery Life Limited

South African Airways (SOC) Limited

PWC

South African Reserve Bank

Steinhoff Properties Pty Ltd

Tronox Incorporated

Railway Safety Regulator

Industrial Development Corporation

South African Forestry Company Limited

PRASA Metrorail Western Cape

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

National Commissioner of SAPS

Sanlam Life Insurance Limited

Gauteng Office of the Premier

AON

Astral Operations Limited

APL Cartons (Pty) Ltd

Oppenheimer Generations Custodian SA (Pty) Ltd

Gautrain Management Agency

Civil Aviation Authority

City of Johannesburg (COJ)

Tiber Construction Proprietary Limited

Lounics International

PPC Limited

Shoprite Checkers (Pty) Ltd

Distell (Pty) Ltd

Group 5 Construction Proprietary Limited

Astron Energy (Pty) Ltd

Bidvest Group Limited

Department of Employment and Labour

Santam Limited

Software AG South Africa Proprietary Limited

Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings

Caterpillar Financial Services South Africa Proprietary Limited

Redefine Properties

Land Bank

Royal Canin

Discovery Limited

EOH Limited

South African National Parks

Air Traffic Navigation Service

Beech Veltman Inc

Beech Veltman Inc offers a multi-disciplinary employment law service with valuable experience in the mining, natural resources and infrastructure sectors. The firm is also well versed in health and safety issues. Melanie Hart, who has extensive experience across mining, aviation and pharmaceuticals, leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Melanie Hart

Other key lawyers:

Refiloe Vengeni

DLA Piper Advisory Services (pty) Ltd

DLA Piper  is best known for its experience in handling sensitive and strategically important matters. The team advises clients on managing poor performance in the workplace and conducts investigations into allegations of misconduct, racism and sexual harassment. Monique Jefferson heads the employment department with experience in issues arising out of corporate transactions such as sale of businesses.

Practice head(s):

Monique Jefferson