Question posted in the General Law category relating to Gauteng
Question value: R 100.00
Hi there. In August 2017 I started working at Vision works Optometrists and it states in my contract that I will have to travel to the Centurion branch 4 times a month. After a few months I realized that due to the working hours being so late, it was dangerous for me to continue traveling there due to the amounts of hijackings etc. I spoke to my employer about this and she told me that I would not need to travel to Centurion any longer. A year has passed and I have not been traveling to Centurion however just yesterday she says that I will be traveling to Centurion again from next week. I have explained that I will not be able to. Can I legally refuse?
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.
Yes, in my opinion you can legally refuse, but the answer might be a little bit more complicated than that.
When you spoke to your employer about not going to Centurion any longer, and she agreed, there could have been two outcomes -
1) Either, the agreement which was reached was that your original contract would be amended so as to remove your obligation to visit Centurion once a week;
2) Or, the agreement which was reached was that your original contract would be amended so as to remove your obligation to visit Centurion once a week for a certain period of time (e.g. for the next 6 months).
If you think that your discussions with your employer resulted in option 1) above, then in my opinion you can legally refuse.
If however you think that your discussions with your employer resulted in option 2) above, then in my opinion you can't legally refuse.
It all depends on what the agreement was.
If there was never any mention of the change being only for 6 months, or a year, and that after that period you would then need to visit Centurion again, then you have got good grounds to argue option 1).
Similarly, if you said that you didn't want to visit Centurion because of a spate of hi-jackings in the area, and the agreement was that "for as long as there are still hi-jackings, then you don't need to go", and now the Police have arrested a gang of hi-jackers, then you might need to go again...
If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.
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Answer to the Question
If that is the case, then I would say that your employer has verbally agreed to amend your contract. The fact that you have not travelled to Centurion for over a year is proof of this.
If your employer tries to argue that the "amendment" is not valid because it was not reduced to writing, then you must reply that it was never agreed that it must be reduced to writing and signed by the parties, and that a verbal amendment is just as good as a written amendment.