Promotion can be a right

3rd April 2023

Promotion can be a right

In addition to dismissals employers may be taken to the CCMA for a number of unfair practices including unfair promotion.

Employees do not have an unfettered and automatic right to be promoted. Were such an automatic right to exist this would place an unfair and impossible burden on employers. However, where certain circumstances exist employees may have a legal right to be promoted. (Often such circumstances need to exist in combination but this will not always be the case) For example:

For example in the case of Mokhobo and others vs Department of Education (2005, 8 BALR 836) the employees applied for posts advertised within the Department. Despite the fact that these employees were recommended for the posts they were not promoted. At the CCMA the employer maintained that there were insufficient funds to finance the cost of the promotions and that a moratorium had been placed on appointments. The employees maintained that they had a legitimate expectation that they would be promoted. The arbitrator found that:

The CCMA therefore ordered the employer to promote the employees in question retrospectively and to pay them compensation.

It is alarming for employers that, despite the fact that the Department’s lack of funds had not been disputed by the CCMA arbitrator, this fact was insufficient to persuade the arbitrator to find in its favour. This means that, even where an employer cannot afford to promote employees, it may be forced to do so if the employees have already been recommended for promotion.

In view of this employers are advised:

Employees are advised not to raise promotion related disputes merely because they have expectations of promotion.

To observe our experts debating hot labour law topics please click the Labour Law Debate item in the menu at

Written by Ivan Israelstam, Chief Executive of Labour Law Management Consulting. He may be contacted on (011) 888-7944 or 0828522973 or on e-mail address: Web Address: