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South Africa – New Temporary Employment Services legislation delayed

30 July 2013

Amendments to the Labour Relations Act (‘LRA’) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) are currently before the South African Parliament. Changes to the legislation could present new challenges for Temporary Employment Services, commonly referred to as ‘labour brokers’ in South Africa.

Nritika Singh, managing director of Isilumko Staffing said: “Over the past five years the government has [attempted] to introduce amendments to labour laws and the B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) scorecards. These have had and will continue to have a restrictive effect on an already over-regulated industry.”

“The new amendments to the LRA have been watered down and will still allow labour brokers, now known as TES (Temporary Employment Services) to operate, which COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and other unions were trying to prevent. Much stricter compliance and enforcement will be implemented if the amendments are passed,” she added.

The BCEA was ready to go to the National Council of Provinces and from there back to the president for signing into law. Following debate between the political parties concerning the LRA, the Democratic Alliance party called for a division (a voting on the bill) however, as there were insufficient members in the house, no vote could be taken. As a result the LRA bill will not go through to the National Council of Provinces and will be delayed until after the parliamentary winter recess.

Steve Katz, HR and legal director of Isilumko Staffing, said reputable staffing companies represented by the Association of Personnel Service Organisations, and umbrella body Capes, support statutory compliance and believe that abusive practices by unscrupulous operators should be stopped.

"It is critical for employers to understand that we already have a regulated labour environment and any further regulations will just add to the cost of doing business. The real problem is enforcement, and there is a lack of enforcement of current legislation. A recent survey indicated about five million employees are covered by sectoral determinations and that there is about a 45 percent non-compliance of these," he added.

Ms Singh commented: "It's clear that if labour brokers play a significant role in the employment sector, with an average of close to 1 million temporary workers employed in South Africa every day. Amendments to the LRA and BCEA as discussed could be promulgated before the end of the year. We hope (they) won't be too restrictive."

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