Labour Inspectors in the Workplace

Chapter 10 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act outlines the authorities of a Labour Inspector. 

In short summary of this chapter, the labour inspector has the authority to advise employees and employers of their rights; conduct inspections of employer’s records that it is obliged to keep in terms of the BCEA; investigate any complaints made by an employee; and enforce the employer to comply by securing an undertaking from the employer, or by issuing a compliance order. 

The labour inspector is also authorised to enter your premises without warrant or prior notice, at any reasonable time, for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing compliance the act.

In this regard, section 65(1) of the BCEA provides as follows:

“(1) in order to enforce compliance with an employment law, a labour inspector may, without warrant or notice, at any reasonable time, enter – 

(a) any workplace or any other place where an employer carries on business or keeps employment records, that is not a home.”

Further to this provision, section 67 of the BCEA, entitled Cooperation with Labour Inspectors, states:

“(1) Any person who is questioned by a labour inspector in terms of section 66 must answer all relevant questions lawfully put to that person truthfully and to the best of his or her ability. 

(2) Every employer and each employee must provide any facility and assistance at a workplace that is reasonably required by a labour inspector to perform the labour inspector’s functions effectively.”

However, for the purpose of balancing the authorities bestowed on labour inspectors, section 63(3) provides that the minister must provide each labour inspector with a signed certificate stating that the person is a labour inspector; which legislation that labour inspector may monitor and enforce; and which of the functions of a labour inspector that person may preform.

Section 66(3)(a) states further that the labour inspector MUST produce the certificate referred to in section 63(3) when he or she is requested to do so.

As such, a labour inspector is empowered to arrive at a workplace without notice, and an employer is obligated to answer any questions put to it by the labour inspector and to provide him or her with any assistance that he or she may be require to perform his or her functions effectively. 

However, an employer is entitled to request that the labour inspector produce the certificate issued to him or her by the Minister in proof of his or her necessary authority to enter the workplace and which legislation he or she is empowered to monitor and enforce.

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