Employment in South Africa


Bowmans has a large and established team, which includes a number of market-leading practitioners. It handles some of the largest engagements in Africa from a number of blue-chip clients. Chris ToddGraham DamantKaren Fulton and Robin Carr are highly regarded practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Lusanda Raphulu; Chris Todd

Key clients



Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa

Pick n Pay Supply Chain

deVere Acuma

Anglo American Platinum

Alexander Forbes

Work highlights

  • Acted for Pick ‘n Pay Supply Chain in a matter concerning allegations that functional outsourcing service providers constitute temporary employment service.
  • Acted for a transgender female in an automatically unfair dismissal claim concerning gender discrimination.
  • Represented Anglo American Platinum in a dispute with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union over the ability of an employer to transfer employees from one provident fund to another.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr has established itself as a popular choice for advice on redundancies, strikes and retrenchments. It has also achieved growth in Africa-wide engagements. Fiona Leppan is a leader in the mining sector, Hugo Pienaar is noted for road freight and Aadil Patel is highly regarded for employment work in the public and financial services sectors. Tech and media are also growth markets for the team. Gillian LumbMichael YeatesNicholas Preston and Jose Jorge are also rated. Director Imraan Mahomed was a new arrival in October 2020.

Practice head(s):

Aadil Patel


The firm’s uniqueness is embedded in the personal and professional experience you have as a client. They have the ability to appropriately balance building personal relationships with professional conduct, a more informal culture with the professionalism, respectful customer-centricity with strong legal advice and opinions.

The team is highly supportive and provides a partnership relationship.

Extremely knowledgeable attorneys who operate with the highest level of integrity. Their brilliance and the results they produce are truly impressive.

Aadil Patel is a pragmatic confident problem solver. He is always accessible and his general service is that of value add with a focus on outcomes rather than time.

Aadil Patel is extremely responsive and very practical in his advice and brings clarity to difficult legal issues with a commercial lens.

Gillian Lumb is very thorough in her approach to matters and provides very practical legal advice on issues.

Gillian Lumb is absolutely fantastic, always quick to assist and is able to explain complex matters simply. She take time to hear my issues and provides suggestions and great advice.

Michael Yeates is exceptionally professional and supportive. No matter how busy he is he always makes time for us and responds to queries in a professional and timely manner.

Nicholas Preston  is always available, never too busy to assist with your matter. He creates a feeling that he is part of your business as though he was your in-house legal advisor. He always goes the extra mile and unconditionally acts in his client’s best interest.

Jose Jorge has the capability to distinguish between the wood and the trees and to give advice and direction with difficult and complicated legal issues. and always relates that to the impact on the business and also specifically on future labour relations.

Key clients


City of Cape Town

Old Mutual

Absa Bank


British American Tobacco South Africa



South African Broadcasting Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Uber on the status of partner-drivers and drivers in South Africa, including whether drivers may be found to be employees under South African employment law.
  • Acted for Sibanye in a dispute before the Constitutional Court which concerned alleged racism in the workplace, specifically the question of direct and indirect racism.
  • Represented Nampak in a Labour Court trial involving 2,230 employees who disputed the capping of employer contributions to the post-retirement medical aid benefits.


ENSafrica's sizeable team continues to be a key name in the domestic market and is making a further impression in Africa-wide matters. It acts for a range of big-name and blue-chip clients that it routinely advises on sensitive issues, including strikes, retrenchment exercises and union negotiations. Brian PattersonRoss Alcock and Stuart Harrison are among the foremost practitioners in the market, while Dion MasherFritz Malan and Peter le Roux are also highly rated. Lizle Louw joined Webber Wentzel.

Practice head(s):

Brian Patterson


Their advice is practical and not pure legalistic. The team is available after hours and on short notice.

Always delivers on time and in full, never disappoints, a true trusted adviser that is always available 24/7.

Brian Patterson and the broader employment team are best in class, always looking to provide a value add service over and above the instruction given.

Stuart Harrison is extremely knowledgeable and his ability to dissect labour matters and present sound arguments on issues are highly valued. Stuart acts as a sounding board that helps build the capacity of the team. Stuart’s ability to analyse risks and mitigate the potential risks proactively has been of tremendous value.

Peter Le Roux is extremely competent, available any hour of the day or night, has the ability to highlight potential challenges and knows the mining industry inside and out.

Key clients

Absa Bank

Anglogold Ashanti

City of Johannesburg

Glencore- Xtrata


South African Airways

Tsogo Sun



Work highlights

  • Advised Glencore Operations South Africa on a major strike action.
  • Acted for Eskom in work stoppages and demonstrations by employees nationwide.
  • Advised BMW South Africa on a threatened strike by employees.

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel has an immensely experienced employment team with an extensive record in various industries, most notably in the mining sector. Johan Olivier, Nick Robb, Pamela Stein and Lizle Louw are among the most experienced employment specialists in the market, Louw joined the firm in January 2019 from ENSafrica. At senior associate level, Jessica Braum and Nivaani Moodley are the key names.

Practice head(s):

Johan Olivier


They are knowledgeable and experienced in the field. They have depth in employment law. Their response turnaround is excellent.

Key clients

Rustenburg Platinum Mines

Royal Bafokeng Platinum

Northam Platinum

The South African Airways Pilots Association

SPP Pumps

Work highlights

  • Represented a number of mining houses in a landmark secondary strike organised by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
  • Acted for SBV in an essential services application for the wholesale supply of cash in South Africa; this declared a new category of employees as an essential service.
  • Acted for Royal Bafokeng Platinum in a case concerning the principle of majoritarianism in collective labour law in South Africa.


Fasken's team has a strong track record in multiple areas including restraint of trade applications, restructuring and retrenchment work, FDI and M&A, and strikes. Paul Fouche and Ludwig Frahm-Arp are highly rated individuals, as is pensions specialist Rosemary Hunter. Melanie Hart and Sherisa Rajah are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Paul Fouche

Key clients



AngloGold Ashanti

Estee Lauder Companies

SPX – DB Thermal

ABB South Africa

Work highlights

  • Advised Bayer on the employment aspects of its merger with Monsanto, including the transfer of employees in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.
  • Represented Kaelo Xelus in an urgent application to the Labour Court to enforce restraint of trade undertakings.
  • Defended Sandvik Mining and Constructions against an unfair dismissal claim brought by a former employee.

Lawtons Africa

Lawtons Africa's employment practice remains intact following the group's separation from Hogan Lovells International LLP. The team remains active in major retrenchment exercises and is at the forefront of employment terminations relating to executives. Since publication, Imraan Mohamed has left the firm.


Quality and skilled professionals that consistently deliver exceptional services.

I would like to highlight the ease of communication with all members of the team, the great deal of experience they have in the field and the global understanding about issues of the company.

Key clients

Medal Paint Manufacturers

Dilokong Chrome Mine

Dark Fibre Africa

Microelecttronica South Africa

Stafford Brothers


Work highlights

  • Advised Medal Paint Manufacturers on issues surrounding a five-month protected strike and the dismissal of 65 employees.
  • Assisted the business rescue practitioners of Dilokong Chrome Mine with the separation agreement between AS Metals (in business rescue) and Dilokong Chrome Mine.

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc

Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc fields a substantial team that advises a range of major parastatal organisations and private businesses, including large mining houses. The team, which operates from the firm's Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town offices, is particularly notable for retrenchment exercises, strikes and executive dismissals. Murray Alexander leads the team from Durban. Johannesburg-based Mohammed Chavoos and Karen Ainslie, and Jason Whyte in Cape Town also rated.

Practice head(s):

Murray Alexander

Key clients

Don’t Waste Services

Pioneer Foods

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)

South African Custodial Managements (SACM)

Work highlights

  • Acted for Don’t Waste Services in an urgent interdict against a strike.
  • Defended Pioneer Foods against a number of claims brought by former employees.
  • Acted for Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa in instituting disciplinary action against four national full-time shop stewards of two trade unions.

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Attorneys remains noted for retrenchment and redundancy exercises. Moreover, it continues to be at the forefront of advice to parastatals. Anastasia VatalidisSandile July and Jacques van Wyk are all key senior practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Anastasia Vatalidis

Key clients

Adcock Ingram Healthcare


Eli Lilly

South African Forestry Company

PRASA Metrorail Western Cape

Environmental Resource Management Services

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

Work highlights

  • Advised Eli Lilly South Africa on the South African portion of Eli Lilly’s transfer of its remaining animal health businesses to Elanco Animal Health.
  • Assisted Konecranes and Demag with the merger of its business with that of MHPS.
  • Acted for Lounics International on the dismissal of employees that participated in an unlawful strike.

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg

Baker McKenzie Johannesburg's small team has extensive experience in employee relations, trade union bargaining, corporate reorganisations and multi-jurisdictional business transfers. Johan Botes leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Johan Botes