Beware interference with employee benefits

27th February 2023

Beware interference with employee benefits

As I have mentioned previously, employers are not taken to the CCMA only for reasons of unfair dismissal. Employees may take employers to the CCMA for a number of other reasons including:


This relates to benefits to which the employee is entitled in the course of his/her employment. Such benefits may include leave, retirement, medical aid, life insurance, funeral benefits and disability benefits amongst others.

Unfair provision of benefits may relate to the employer unfairly:

Or the employer might change its mind about contributing towards the benefit costs of employee’s dependents. A case in point is that of Solidarity obo Du Plessis vs ABB Services (2005,8 BALR 820). When the employee joined the business his employment contract stated that the employer would pay half of the medical aid contributions for himself and his family. For a while the employer kept to this agreement. However, after he got married the employee discovered that the employer had changed its medical aid policy and no longer paid any contributions for employees’ spouses. As a consequence, the employee had to bear the full cost of the contribution in respect of his wife.

The employee therefore referred a dispute to the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council for unfair labour practice. The arbitrator found the employer’s action to be unfair and ordered the employer to:

It is very often true that employee benefits in the modern day can be extremely expensive for employers. This is especially so where:

The cost to employers of interfering with employee benefits can be very high. Such costs include:

Employers are therefore advised to obtain expert labour law advice before embarking on any changes that affect their employees.