Press Release: Municipality ordered to consider family responsibility when assigning shift schedule
Published by The Legal Resources Centre 10 September 2018
For Immediate Release: 10 September 2018
On 6 September 2018, the Labour Court in Durban ordered the municipality of Umhlathuze to take into account Ms Govindsamy’s family responsibility to her child when allocating the shifts for her employment.
Ms Govindsamy, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, has been in the employ of the municipality of Umhlathuze since 2003. In 2005, Ms Govindsamy was promoted to the position of assistant superintendent, supervising traffic wardens and traffic officers, and required to work shifts.
In 2015, Ms Govindsamy’s minor child was diagnosed with a rare disease called Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis which resulted in blindness in the child’s right eye, joint and skin disorders and severe side effects from the prescribed medication.
As a single mother tasked with supervising and caring for her minor child in the mornings and evenings, Ms Govindsamy’s circumstances highlighted the difficulties she experienced in attempting to balance her shift hours with her childcare and family responsibilities to her minor child. In January 2016, she accordingly requested that her shifts accommodate these family responsibilities and that she be permitted not to commence her shift prior to 07:00am and to end her shift no later than 05:00pm.
Following the City’s refusal to accommodate her needs, the LRC, on behalf of Ms Govindsamy, brought an application in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (the BCEA) read with the Code of Good Practice on the Arrangement of Working Time and the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (the EEA).
Section 7 of the BCEA stipulates that every employer must regulate the working time of each employee with due regard to the family responsibilities of employees. Section 4 of the Code deals with the design and evaluation of shift systems and states that the childcare needs of the employees must be considered when developing shift rosters.
The LRC argued that Ms Govindsamy is willing and able to work shifts, and thus meets the inherent requirements of her position, but was seeking the enforcement of the BCEA to have her working hours regulated with due regard to her family responsibility and childcare demands.
In the Labour Court, an agreement, which was made an order of court, orders the Umhlathuze municipality to henceforth accommodate Ms Govindsamy’s family responsibility and childcare demands when designing the shift roster in January of each year, to the effect that Ms. Govindsamy works the shift of 7.30am to 4.30pm.