Firstly, it is necessary to know what constitutes an “unfair labour practice”.

Before the Labour Relations Act, 1995, came into effect, the term “unfair labour practice” referred to a wide variety of things, many of which are now dealt with in the sections of the Act dealing with disputes at work.

Unfair labour practices that have not been covered by these sections, are described as “residual” unfair labour practices. The Act defines a 'residual' unfair labour practice as any unfair act or omission that arises between an employer or an employee involving:

• Direct or indirect unfair discrimination against an employee on any arbitrary ground including race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, marital status or family responsibility;
• Unfair conduct on the part of the employer relating to the promotion, demotion or training of an employee or to the provision of benefits to an employee;
• Unfair suspension of an employee or any other disciplinary action which falls short of dismissal;
• The failure or refusal of an employer to reinstate or re-employ a former employee in terms of any agreement.
In the clause prohibiting unfair discrimination, the term 'employee' includes an applicant for employment. In other words, anybody who has applied for a job and has been turned down may have legal recourse if he or she can prove they were not appointed because of unfair discrimination. However, the application of this clause is limited so that it cannot be used to prevent affirmative action policies designed to protect and advance people or groups of people previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination. Also, no discrimination based on an inherent requirement of the particular job can constitute unfair discrimination.

This is an extract from the article I published today on my blog.