NAB THE BAD GUYS: How can labour law help to get rid of corruption in the workplace?

NAB THE BAD GUYS: How can labour law help to get rid of corruption in the workplace?

The scourge of corruption

Corruption has reached epidemic proportions in both the private and public sectors. It operates silently like a virus in the systems of businesses and state institutions. It’s faceless, deceitful and cunning. And it’s driven by those most profoundly destructive of human impulses – dishonesty, greed and self-interest. It has no respect or concern for the harm it causes to people or enterprises – its sole purpose is to plunder the fruits of others without being caught. And then when detected – to deny guilt and cover their tracks to avoid blame.

Labour law protection

The LRA deals specifically with the scourge in Section 187. It does not have the jurisdiction to impose fines and prison sentences for employees found guilty of corruption in the workplace – that’s dealt with in criminal law. But it takes the strongest stand it possibly can by protecting whistle-blowers against dismissal for reporting corruption. It does so by classifying the dismissal of a whistle-blower as an “automatically unfair dismissal”. This prohibits employers from dismissing or taking action against employees who legitimately report evidence of corruption in their companies or organisations.  

Maximum penalty

The LRA goes further. It classifies victimization of whistle-blowers as seriously as it treats cases of unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender and other arbitrary grounds. And it reserves the maximum penalty on 24 months’ pay for employees who prove they’ve been dismissed for disclosing legitimate information about corruption.

Protected disclosures

The underlying policy of the Protected Disclosures Act[1] is to impose a responsibility on all every employer and employee to disclose criminal and other irregular activities in the workplace. It defines a “protected disclosure” as any unlawful or irregular act including –

  • Criminal offences;
  • Failure to comply with certain legal obligations;
  • Miscarriages of justice;

TIP: Many employers already have clear anti-corruption policies and facilities such as anonymous Hotlines for employees to report suspicious activities. It’s essential that the facility is trustworthy to protect the identity of whistle-blowers and their rights to protection. Employers who don’t have a hotline facility would be well advised to sign up for one if they’re serious about nabbing the bad guys.      

Patrick Deale
Labour Lawyer & Mediator







Tel: 083 375 8771

[1] No 7 of 2014