Government is introducing more strict and fresh labour laws to protect South Africans

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The Department of Employment and Labour will consider several labour market reforms in the coming year as a response to the Covid pandemic and the country’s record-high unemployment in South Africa, says director-general Thobile Lamati.

“The thrust of these reforms amongst others intend to explore what can be sacrificed by business and labour in the interests of job creation with a view to striking a balance between job creation and job security,” Lamati said in his department’s recently published annual performance plan.

He added that the department plans to:

  • Deal with aspects of the labour laws that are not in compliance with public international law and the Constitution or not in step with comparative labour law;
  • Ensure that the law responds to the challenges facing the organisation of domestic workers;
  • Explore what inhibits small businesses to create employment and ensure they are thriving.

Lamati said he expects the business sector and labour to table their own proposals in the coming months in respect of the areas that they think need to be amended.

“The National Minimum Wage Commission is also expected to conduct a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, in order to gain insights on the impact of the national minimum wage on the economy, collective bargaining and the reduction in income differentials and recommend benchmarks to the minister on reducing proportionate income differentials,” he said.

The commission will further recommend adjustments of the national minimum wage to the minister and set medium-term targets for the national minimum wage.

Stricter transformation laws 

One of the key pieces of legislation the department plans to introduce this year includes employment equity changes which will allow the Labour minister system to set be introduced later this year.

The bill will allow the Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi to set employment equity targets for different business sectors. The minister can set targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions.

It also aims to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and add rules for doing business with the government.

Talks have already been held with several sectors, including mining, financial & business services, wholesale & retail, and construction.

While some firms and sectors have welcomed the proposed changes, others have warned that the new targets could negatively impact the economy.

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