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Efficacy of plain language drafting in labour legislation
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The framework of the employment relationship is regulated by labour legislation. The relationship is known as the tripartite relationship, it is made up of the employer, employees normally represented by the union and the state. The state is responsible for the statutory and legislative framework within which this relationship is conducted.Legislation has been traditionally written in such a manner that only a selected group could understand and interpret it. The new dispensation in South Africa necessitated a move from the traditional manner in which legislation has been drafted to a more open and transparent format, which the general public can understand and comprehend. Plain language drafting that has been in use for the past 28 years intemationally is a method of drafting legislation which focuses on the reader or end-user.This study investigated the impact on comprehension and understanding levels of subjects when presented with a format of labour legislation that was redrafted using the guidelines of plain language drafting as opposed to the current format of the legislation.The research hypothesis was "Legislation will be more easily understood if redrafted in terms of plain language principles."An extensive literature review on plain language drafting, plain language principles and on mass communication was undertaken. The focal area in the literature review dealt with research that has been conducted on plain language drafting in labour legislation and on the theory of drafting and plain language.The empirical study was conducted at a model C type, senior secondary school in the Westem Cape with English speaking grade 11 students. The study tested the comprehension and understanding levels of the respondents 'In an experimental and control group environment. The experimental group receivedthe redrafted format of the legislation and the control group received the current format of the legislation.The results of the empirical study, conclusively demonstrated that the respondents in the experimental group who received the redrafted fonnat of the legislation, far exceeded the performance of the results that were achieved by the control group who received the current format of the legislation. The test results were exposed to various statistical measures to validate the research hypothesis. The findings of the statistical measures supported the research hypothesis.The findings of the empirical study concurred with the literature review and the research hypothesis; that when plain language drafting principles are applied to legislation, the reader more easily understands it.In conclusion the statistical tests have conclusively proved that, overall, plain language does improve comprehension of the legislation.