April 18 2012 at 06:59pm
By Wiseman Khuzwayo.
Sean Snyman, a founding shareholder and a current executive director of LabourNet, agrees that when companies use labour brokers to avoid permanent employment this should be dealt with but says in genuine legitimate cases labour brokers play a vital role in creating employment.
LabourNet is the largest industrial relations and labour law consulting business in South Africa.
Both the Basic Conditions of Employment Act Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Act (LRA) Amendment Bill discourage the use of labour brokers.
The LRA amendment limits temporary employment to genuine temporary work that does not exceed six months, otherwise the employee must be given a permanent employment contract.
Snyman advocates statutory self-regulation by the labour broking industry. He says the mechanism is already there in the form of the Essential Services Committee (ESC) proposed in the LRA Amendment Bill.
It proposes that the ESC is composed of eight people, with the independent chairperson and deputy appointed by the Minister of Labour.
The remaining six members are nominated by social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council: two each by government, labour and business.
Snyman says proper regulation similar to that in the financial services sector is essential for proper management of the labour broking industry and should be intended to protect employees, the broker and client alike.
He says: “The first step should be establishing an independent regulatory body, which would require that all labour brokers be registered and be licensed to trade.”
Currently, one does not need to be registered to be a labour broker. Snyman refers to “bakkies brigades”, who load workers on their bakkies and take them where there is temporary employment but don’t pay the minimum wage.
He says labour brokers should subscribe to an industry standard code of conduct. This would not only protect employees from unscrupulous brokers but also reassure employers of ethical business practice.
“Employees or companies that use labour broking services would have the right to lay a complaint, which can be investigated and, if necessary, the relevant constructive action should be enforced. If the labour broker is found guilty of misconduct or unethical business practice, then the regulatory body would have the power to revoke the labour broker’s licence,” says Snyman.