20 February 2015 by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Labour Legislation: three down, one to go

The much anticipated employment services regulations are soon to be published for public comment. According to the Labour Minister Mildred Olifant, the regulations will be published as soon as they have been ratified.

The Employment Services Bill was the fourth piece of legislation - after the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill - submitted by the Department of Labour and adopted by the National Assembly during 2013. All of these bills, with the exception of the Employment Services Bill (Bill), have been signed into law by the President.

The Bill aims to contribute to the government's objectives of repositioning public employment services as a way to enhance the creation of secure and decent employment; promote employment preservation and ultimately provide a sustainable livelihood to all workers.

The strategic objectives of the Bill will be achieved through institutional arrangements that the Department of Labour will establish to provide free employment services to citizens. Such services include registration of job seekers, registering of placement opportunities, referral to training, and career information.

The Minister of Labour is further permitted in terms of the Bill to introduce schemes to promote the employment of unemployed work seekers, particularly unemployed youth; to assist employees facing retrenchment to remain in employment; and to promote the rehabilitation and re-entry into employment of those employees who have been injured on duty or who have contracted an occupational disease. Regulations under the Bill may even require an employer to register vacancies in specified categories of work.

Private employment agencies providing certain services in the private sector can also anticipate regulation under the Employment Services Act, No 4 of 2014 (Act), in order to protect vulnerable workers.

The Act has been received with a significant deal of optimism and will, with the exception of s13 dealing with the registration and regulation of private employment agencies, come into force on 1 April 2015.

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