I am a receptionist but my manager has been taking advantage of me and I need to stand my ground.

He has promoted and demoted me because one of my colleagues was unhappy with the change even if I did not do anything wrong.

Now every time our domestic worker goes on leave he wants me to clean the kitchen and clean his office.

I would like to know if he has the right to do it?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Neo
    Jan 8, 2020 at 23:53
  • 1
    I just read the comments moved to chat and I think the main idea being presented is that a Promotion or Demotion should involve you changing contracts. A Pay increase is usually associated with a promotion, due to you taking on additional roles and a Demotion the opposite, however it is really dependent on the contract you agree to. So to answer the title... yes.
    – Shadowzee
    Jan 9, 2020 at 3:46
  • Claudette, I hope that you are not posting using your real name, just in case your boss googles it
    – Mawg
    Jan 9, 2020 at 6:29

3 Answers 3


In South Africa unfortunately most employers include a clause in the employment contract that states your job description includes "any reasonable request to do a task that you are capable of doing". Sadly this means that even if you are employed as a receptionist, you may be requested/instructed to do some cleaning. Unless you can prove you are not capable of cleaning, legally your employer is well within his rights to do so, although it does not bode well for staff motivation.

As for the demotion, you did not state if your remuneration was adapted with the demotion, so i'll address both scenario's. A demotion with a pay cut must be preceded by a disciplinary process to justify it - failure to do so could be considered unfair labor practice.

However, Demotion without a pay cut seems to be accepted as a "fair" labor practice since most job descriptions are worded in a very broad manor and job titles can be created as it suits the employer.

I know that the working environment may not always be a pleasant one, but unfortunately employers know that the high unemployment rate makes replacing a staff member a breeze, even if it's not a pleasant place to work and rely on this fact to keep staff from refusing to do unpleasant tasks.

In the end with companies like these where the boss is the way you describe, the only practical solution would be to brush up your CV and seek alternative employment.

Good luck.


This doesn't sound good. Either your boss is a pushover, and caves into demands from subordinates for reasons unknown, or if the colleague who was unhappy is above your boss, this suggests confusion in the chain of command and miscommunication. Worse, he gave you a demotion as if it was nothing. Which it is, because your promotion came with no salary hike in the first place.

Depending on the laws of your country / state, there might be different options for you. These options, no matter how applicable, will take time and money to be done. I don't like advocating for "leave your job" but in this case, I would prepare my resume anyway because management is fickle.


I have no idea of South-African labor laws or your specific promotion or demotion so lets stay with a hypothetical example for a while:

Lets assume you are a fruit merchant by contract. You were assigned to sell apples. Some possible scenarios:

  • You are asked to stand in for your washer, who had an accident on the way to work and will not return for 2 days. This is an emergency and there is work the company needs done. It's acceptable to do as a job, although not as much fun an lower pay normally. You will get paid your usual trader's salary (probably more than a washer) but you will need to wash some fruit for the next days. This is not a demotion. This is what most contracts call "and other tasks as required by the company".

  • You are asked to switch market booths with the oranges trader. Due to the fact that oranges sell better (or worse) and you get a commission of 10%, you may now earn more (or less) than before. But you are still employed as fruit merchant. Nothing has changed. You have been neither demoted, nor promoted, you are still a fruit merchant with a 10% commission on sales as agreed upon in your contract. Might be good, might be bad, but the contract did not change so there is nothing you can do. It did not require your consent.

  • You are doing great and when the fruit trade manager retires you are asked to take their job. Great. That is a promotion. Your contract changes. You may get more money, but if you accept the new contract for the same amount, it's still a promotion. The point here is: you have to accept it. You have to sign a new contract. Nobody can make you the manager. They can make an offer and obviously all sides are happy if you take it.

  • You are doing miserable. Selling stuff to people is not your thing, you are out of your league. The manager is unhappy and wants to hire another merchant. But you are on time and cheap, so he'd like to keep you as a new washer. This is a demotion. But note that the manager cannot "decide" to demote you. Contracts have to be accepted by both parties and you have no obligation to accept a contract change to washer. However, your manager might have the power to just terminate your merchant contract. Then you are out of a job. But whether you take the washer job is still up to you. Nobody can make you do that. You cannot be demoted without your consent. You can only be fired without your consent.


Can I be promoted and demoted without pay increase or decrease?

You can... assuming you accept it. You don't have to if you are prepared to face the consequences.

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