Recurring Problem of Interpretation: Determining the Date of an ‘Ongoing’ Act or Omission

Authors Molatelo Makhura, Jeremy Phillips & Amos Gwebityala

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: LLB (University of the Witwatersrand); Director, Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc (CTH); BA LLB (University of Cape Town); LLM (University of Fort Hare); Associate, CTH; LLB (University of the Western Cape); Candidate Attorney, CTH
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 44 Issue 3, 2023, p. 1416 – 1431


The Labour Relations Act 1995 (LRA) aims to achieve the effective and expeditious resolution of labour disputes. That the LRA prescribes time periods in which disputes must be referred bears this out. Despite this, certain disputes are referred well outside the prescribed time periods without consequence as they are characterised as ‘recurring and ongoing’ unfair act or omission disputes. Consequently, our courts have grappled with the question whether an act or omission can recur and, if so, under what circumstances. This article seeks to make sense of two recent, but ostensibly contradictory, Labour Appeal Court judgments, both of which addressed the allegation that the employees suffered recurring and ongoing unfair acts or omissions. We analyse what the legal position is, or at least ought to be, regarding the date on which an alleged ongoing act or omission occurs.