These orders can handle different types of litigation, including wrongful dismissals for misconduct, poor performance, illness and work requirements. In addition, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) gives the labour tribunal the power to resolve disputes related to employment contracts. And the Employment Equity Equity Act (EEA) allows the labour tribunal to make decisions about unfair discrimination. The Labour Appeal Court is before the labour tribunal and has increased powers. It may hear an appeal against the decisions of this court. It also has the power to deal directly, if necessary, with matters normally dealt with by the labour tribunal under the LRA. It is clear that these two courts have very important powers between them. And they generally do not hesitate to exercise their powers strongly, even if this entails a very heavy financial burden for the party on the beneficiaries` side. For example, in Evans/Japanese School of Johannesburg, the Labour Tribunal found that the employer had unjustifiably dismissed the worker and had been unfairly discriminated against. The court ordered the employer to pay compensation and damages totalling R377,000. A few years ago, the Labour Tribunal awarded the Ministry of Labour an allowance of R1 million. Although these courts have broad powers, they do not seem to be sure of their exact extent. There appear to be differences of opinion between the different jurisdictions on the maximum amount they can give to workers who are unfairly treated.
To illustrate this point, it is necessary to explain the difference between two types of prices that the labour court can make – compensation bonuses and reimbursement bonuses. Compensation is paid if the employee who has been improperly dismissed is not rehired. The court then grants financial compensation to the worker for the loss of his job. However, according to the LRA, the court is obliged to reinstate, as far as possible, the employee instead of awarding compensation. At the time of reintroduction, the court generally requires that the employer pay the employee for the period between dismissal and the date of re-employment. The goal is to make up for the employee`s shortfall before reintegration. The LRA expressly sets out the maximum amount that the court must sign if the sacked employee is not reinstated. This limit is 24 months` salary in the case of automatically unjustified dismissal and 12 months` pay in all other cases of unfair dismissal. However, the LRA remains silent on a cap on the amount of reimbursement associated with a re-engagement order.
For a long time, the amount of reimbursement is considered to be limited only by the number of months between the day of dismissal and the date of re-employment. It was not until 2005 that the Labour Court of Appeal upheld this view. In Kroukam/SA Airlink, the Labour Appeal Court found that the amount of the additional payment could be calculated up to the date of dismissal, even if it exceeded the compensation limits. Shortly thereafter, in CWIU e.a./Latex Surgical Products, the Labour Tribunal found that the amount of the additional payment ordered had to be subject to the same caps as those set for compensation orders. Then, in Saccawu and others against Primserv ABC Recruitment, the labor court decided that the amount of repayment orders are not set on the maximums for compensation orders.