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Johan Botes

Johan Botes is a partner and heads Baker McKenzie’s Employment Law Practice Group in Johannesburg. He focuses on employment law and labour relations and advises clients on industrial relations, employment negotiations, labour dispute resolution and change management. He also advises companies on organizational restructuring. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Mr. Botes was a director and partner at a leading South African law firm.

Conservatively estimated, one in four women will experience sexual harassment in the workplace at some stage during their working lifespan. The personal toll on these women – and those around them who deal with the secondary effects – is immense. The psychological impact of such harassment and victimization cannot be overstated. A recent study has undertaken the mammoth task of calculating the financial cost to women who are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The findings are not only shocking but serve as a grim reminder that our quest for gender equality must incorporate actions aimed at eradicating sexual harassment as a main driver of workplace inequality.

The recent unrest and looting in South Africa have had a severe impact on businesses and employers in the country. Such businesses have had to address urgent issues including concerns regarding insurance cover, invoking force majeure clauses, ensuring employee health and safely, assisting affected or stranded employees and implementing disciplinary action for employees caught taking part in the looting.

On 11 June 2021, the Department of Employment and Labor in South Africa issued guidance on vaccination policies in the workplace, in the form of the amendment to the Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces. Employers seeking to implement a mandatory vaccine policy must undertake a risk assessment by 2 July 2021.

Travel restrictions implemented due to the pandemic have changed the way the majority of employers plan their workforce mobility programs. This is especially the case if they are based in countries included on travel red lists due to current high infection rates or different virus variants. While some sectors require employees to be physically present, in many others, remote working has taken off and is expected to remain a permanent feature of the modern workforce, even once cross-border travel has recovered.

South Africa’s Labor Court recently expressed little sympathy for an employee who was dismissed for failing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols by coming into work, knowing he had been exposed to the virus, thereby acting with little regard for the health and safety of colleagues and customers. The court also cautioned employers to be more diligent in ensuring the health and safety of their staff.

In brief The Minister of Home Affairs in South Africa has extended the validity period of legally issued visas, which expired during the period of the national lockdown in South Africa. These visa holders are permitted to remain in South Africa, under the existing conditions of their visas, until the expiry date…

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated (and for some, cemented) the work from home trend. As a result, many employers are increasingly turning to employee monitoring technology to replace the physical employee oversight once enjoyed in the office. While employers have many legitimate reasons for monitoring employee activity, the decision to monitor employees is not without its legal and ethical complexities.

The unheralded Botes’ Law on Annual Leave Interpretation holds that if there are two people arguing about the interpretation of annual leave, there will be at least three interpretations of the law on that issue. Johan Botes, Partner and Head of Employment & Compensation at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, explains his theory, referring to recent South African judgments that had conflicting views on the matter.

The Labour Appeal Court in South Africa recently confirmed some of the principles inherent in limited duration contracts, which are used by employers to create certainty and limit legal risk in respect of staffing solutions. Johan Botes, Partner and Head of Employment at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, outlines the details and how the risks can be effectively managed by employers.