Employment bill: Removes all flexibility

2010-12-22 00:00

GIANT recruitment agencies Adcorp and Kelly have described a government bill proposing that employees must be employed permanently as problematic and it is expected that the private employment agencies will argue against the view when the bill is discussed at Nedlac next year.

The Department of Labour has published bills which among others insert a section in the Labour Relations Act declaring temporary employment to be permanent. An amendment to the Labour Relations Act proposes that an employee must be employed permanently unless the employer can establish a justification for employment on a fixed term.

“I think it just takes all flexibility away from companies,” said Adcorp CEO Richard Pike.

“They [the changes] are not business-friendly I think in a time when South Africa is trying to compete internationally in a very soft market with unemployment running rampant in South Africa we need less regulation not more regulation.

“They are definitely making South Africa less competitive and less attractive as an investment destination.”

The group HR director at Kelly, Elias Monage, said: “When you have projects, when you build roads, you build dams, you build power stations you need people for a particular period ... so you cannot have then legislation that compels everyone that everyone is going to be permanent, it’s not possible.”

However, both Adcorp and Kelly are confident that there will be compromises come negotiations around the bills at a Nedlac session next year.

A memorandum that accompanied the bills showed some room for negotiations with the Department of Labour saying the bills were drafts and would go through a process of negotiations at Nedlac.

On the issue of the establishment of a public employment agency, both Kelly and Adcorp sounded unfazed about competition, with both stating that current government centres are incapacitated.

Sbu Gule, employment and labour director at law firm Deneys Reitz Inc., told The Witness that although the bills are not controversial, some of the changes are drastic and radical.

He noted that although the intention of the Employment Services Bill is to assist work-seekers, certain aspects of the bill pose challenges for employers.

The bill introduces registration of private employment agencies and establishes the Employment Services Board and Productivity South Africa.

“The purpose of the bill is to increase the employment opportunities of certain categories of work seekers such as the youth and persons with disabilities.

“One of the provisions which may not go down well with the employers, because it adds to the administrative burden, is the obligation to report to the Department of Labour on vacancies and new positions within a period of 14 days after a position is created or became vacant,” Gule said.

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