Understanding a certificate of service

Upon termination of the employees’ contract of employment section 42 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act requires that an Employer must furnish the Employee with a certificate of service.
This serves as proof that an employee was in fact in that employers service at the time and includes information such as the employee’s full name; the name and address of the employer; a description of any council or sectoral employment standard by which the employer’s business is covered; the date of commencement and date of termination of employment; the title of the job or a brief description of the work for which the employee was employed at date of termination; the remuneration at date of termination; and if the employee so requests, the reason for termination of employment.
A certificate of service although prescribed in terms of the Act may differ to the characteristics of a reference letter. As can be seen a certificate of service outlines basic information as opposed to a reference letter providing more details about an employee’s work ethics, attitude, performance and achievements whilst in the employ of that employer and thereby having more weight to it. It is noted that the employer is not obligated to furnish the employee with a reference letter under any prescribed legislation but must adhere to section 42 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Section 42 further states that if the employee so requests; the reason for termination can be stipulated. This will be at the request by the employee and may be controversial because an employee may not always want the Employer to disclose what gave rise to termination. Should the employer be called upon, it will be vital that this employer stick to facts and/or supporting documentation about the employee’s performance and termination during the course of his or her employment.
To arrange a consultation, for more information, with a member of our qualified team, contact Erin Steyn on 021 919 6418 or email erin@joblaw.co.za

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