Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) have collaborated on the development of a free-to-use Web tool to help smaller businesses with labour relations processes and matters.
The tool was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant at Busa's Business Economic Indaba, which was held on Tuesday, in Midrand.
The joint initiative is one of the flagship projects outlined in the Presidential Jobs Summit Framework Agreement. The tool has gone live following intensive testing and content mapping.
The project germinated from a Busa study conducted in 2015/16, which showed that small businesses struggled with labour relations and that this was a key impediment to their formalisation and willingness to employ more people.
Also, of concern – and a key spark to conceptualising the Web tool – was that CCMA statistics revealed that an estimated 80% of the dispute cases brought before the commission originated from small businesses.
The Web tool has up-to-date information including the recent amendments to the Employment Law that factor in the National Minimum Wage Act, as well as contract templates, information sheets and guides on labour law requirements.
“Small business owners can use the user-friendly Web tool to source information about how to recruit, how to manage employees and build sound workplace relationships, and how to end the employment relationship in a fair manner,” said Busa in a press release.
The Web tool project is in line with the National Development Plan’s ambitious forecast that no fewer than 90% of new jobs will be created by small businesses.
However, red tape and significant bureaucratic hurdles have been cited for the high failure rate of small businesses in South Africa, as well as the country’s low levels of grassroots entrepreneurial activity.
Busa and the CCMA believe the Web tool will go a long way in unburdening small businesses from having to navigate through regulatory hoops.
In South Africa, many small businesses do not have in-house labour law expertise or the financial resources to comply with the complex administrative burden of hiring and managing staff.
In addition, the cost of compliance is proportionately higher for small businesses. This often leads to noncompliance, a higher number of labour disputes and, at times, protracted court cases that are often detrimental to employment and the potential growth and success of small businesses.
The Web tool is designed to cut red tape and associated costs of labour relations compliance for small business; contribute to workplace stability for small business owners; improve employer and employee understanding of the Employment Law; and improve legislative compliance and push for formalising small businesses.
Additionally, the Web tool is targeted at small businesses, but is generally accessible to the public free of charge, providing step-by-step guidance on employment law compliance requirements, and is a self-help tool that demystifies labour relations.
The tool minimises the need to find and pay consultants or labour lawyers for basic industrial relations processes.
Over the long term, the Web tool will reside with the CCMA and Busa to ensure ongoing maintenance and updates as required, as well as exploring in future the possibility of embedding the Web-based resource into a call center.