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Are Mutual Separation Agreements enforceable? Here is what the Labour Appeal Court found in Workforce Staffing (Pty) Ltd v Mjoli and Another

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The Labour Appeal Court in Johannesburg rendered a pivotal judgment in Workforce Staffing (Pty) Ltd v Mjoli and Another (JA 32/23) [2024] ZALAC 9 (11 April 2024), scrutinising the enforceability of mutual separation agreements between an employer and former employees. This blog post explores the key elements of the court’s decision, shedding light on the responsibilities and evidentiary burdens employees face when disputing the validity of separation agreements.

The case emerged from the claims of two employees who labelled their termination as both substantively and procedurally unfair, leading to their initial reinstatement by the Labour Court. This outcome was subsequently contested in the Labour Appeal Court.

The employees argued their dismissal lacked proper consultation, violating Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, which deals with retrenchment. Conversely, the employer maintained that the terminations were mutually agreed upon through signed separation agreements, negating any claim of dismissal.

Central to the Labour Appeal Court’s examination was whether the separation agreements were authentic and valid. The employees denied signing the agreements, challenging the employer’s assertion of mutual consent. The court meticulously analyzed the evidence, emphasizing the need for witness corroboration at the signing of such agreements and ultimately placing the burden of proof on the employees to demonstrate that they had not consented to the agreements.


FAQs about the Case

Q: What does this decision mean for employees regarding separation agreements?

The decision underscores the necessity for employees to thoroughly understand and verify any documents they sign, as the onus might be on them to dispute the content or the authenticity of such agreements.

Q: How significant is this ruling for employers?

It stresses the importance for employers to ensure separation agreements are well-documented and witnessed, which helps prevent future legal disputes.


The ruling in Workforce Staffing v Mjoli by the Labour Appeal Court sets a vital precedent for the enforceability of separation agreements and the intricate details involved in termination disputes within the scope of employment law. It highlights the necessity for employees to compellingly demonstrate any lack of agreement to these contracts and the crucial role that unambiguous and meticulous documentation plays in the dynamics of employment. As it stands, the decision is an authoritative resource for navigating the complexities of employment terminations, emphasizing the significance of genuine consent and document precision. If you’re facing challenges with a separation agreement or any employment law issues, take a proactive step — contact Vermeulen Attorneys for expert guidance to ensure your interests are thoroughly protected.

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