When operating in compliance with South African labour laws and adhering to good practice, Temporary Employment Services (TES) providers create vital flexibility in the labour market. Countless South African businesses benefit from TES companies. Government officials within the ministry of employment and labour readily acknowledge that TES are essential to the South African economy. However, this three-party business relationship has had its problems and been subsequently mishandled, leading to some calling for a ban on TES. Minister of Labour 2016 pointed out that an absolute ban of the industry would have significantly negative consequences on the labour market, and that strict regulations for industry is the only way forward. Therefore, it is pertinent to realise right now that TES providers resisting regulation don’t have a future in the South African economy.
The roots of non-compliant TES providers could have been cultivating during the lack of regulation in the beginnings of the industry’s formation. Sadly, some took advantage of the gaps in legislation and labour laws that were “catching up” from 1995 to 2012 and 2014. Initially, The Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 did not offer protection to employees in this type of employment relationship. Then the Labour Relations Act was amended in 2012 which affected TES providers. These amendments sought to prevent mistreatment of employees within the three-party business relationship. In 2014, the Employment Services Act 4 of 2014, came into effect. The act further regulates the employment services in South Africa.
Even today, there are non-compliant TES providers using legislative loopholes to operate which goes against furthering the industry’s growth and image. Often in legislative matters there is room for interpretation. The Temporary Employment Services Division (TESD) aids its members in applying the “golden rule” of of legal interpretation which states that the literal meanings will not be used where it would lead to the intention of the legislature being circumvented.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has put forth the concept of “decent work” which has international consensus. “Decent work” is defined as work which is “a source of personal dignity, family stability, peace in the community, democracies that deliver for people, and economic growth that expands opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise development.” The TESD upholds this concept as well as supports its members in incorporating it into compliant practices.
Non-compliant TES providers that continue with bad practices such as low wages and lack of protection from unfair dismissals clearly work against development in both the local and global system. Unfortunately, this results in damaging the views on TES providers of those within the labour market like trade unions. By highlighting non-compliancy and warning those within in the labour market, it is the TESD’s sincere hope that non-compliant providers working against laws and decent work will recognise the urgent need to change and become part of a division that uniformly promotes good practice and aids in producing a successful, flourishing industry.
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