Industry body the Temporary Employment Services Division (TESD) – as an affiliate of the Constructional Engineering Association (CEA) – continuously embarks on initiatives for members, non-members and clients to increase awareness of industry issues, enhance the value of membership and promote the accreditation of temporary employment service providers, to ensure a compliant TES industry.
“The TESD accreditation is unique in the industry and our processes are fully supported by the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) as the correct way of self-regulating and accrediting members,” says TESD vice chairperson Kevin Cowley.
The TESD (CEA) has been actively involved with the National Economic Development and Labour Council framework since 2001, having participated in negotiations regarding the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act, the Employment Equity Act, Employment Equity Sector Target engagements and other issues concerning the health of the industry.
It has also assisted in drafting amendments to the Employment Services Act (ESA) and is involved in the Employment Services Board. The association also participates in the activities of various statutory boards such as the Compensation Commissioner and the Unemployment Insurance Commission.
“As with any association, our strength depends on the number of members we have which, in turn, enables us to ensure that the TES industry within the metal and engineering industry can self-regulate. This ensures that a multibillion-rand industry is not overregulated by unnecessary changes in legislation and the unintended consequences it would have in the industry,” Cowley contends.
Employment Services Act
The TESD hosted a webinar in July on the implications of the ESA for private employment agencies, with Cowley noting that pending regulations will have a significant impact on the TES industry regarding foreign nationals.
The ESA aims to regulate the employment and movement of foreign nationals and place a greater onus on the reporting and management of TES companies, thereby ensuring that South African workers have access to economic opportunities, following high unemployment rates during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a result, foreign worker quotas are expected to be imposed in sectors, occupations and regions where there are bigger concentrations of employed foreign nationals.
Through the adoption of quotas, South Africa will align with policies implemented by other African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo.
TESD chairperson Albie Rheeder describes the Act as significant labour legislation concerning the TES sector, with the legislation aiming to provide good governance in the industry and “level the playing field” regarding compliance for all social parties and stakeholders.
The ESA requires that companies register with the DEL as a Private Employment Agency (PEA), and to specify what the core nature of the business would be in terms of TES or permanent employment services.
This, in turn, regulates the operation of companies active in the recruitment space, based on specific criteria set out in the Act.
If this certificate is not issued to the TES provider, the business may not operate as a PEA, Cowley warns.
The Act also aims to regulate and protect job seekers from payment of fees for an application or deduction of monies from salaries for the cost of placement.
Cowley notes that proposed changes to the Act will further extend its scope to include employment services that do not operate for gain and labour centres.
However, introducing quotas for foreign nationals will limit skill sets being procured by TES service providers operating in, for example, the engineering and construction sectors, which poses challenges considering the increasing need for skilled workers, amid more renewable-energy projects coming on stream, warns TESD executive committee member Lize Strauss.
“Skills are sourced outside our borders to support these sectors, owing to the lack of experienced talent. The transfer of skills from foreign nationals to the local labour market is not realistic or possible, owing to the level of expertise that is required in these rapidly growing industries,” Strauss concludes.