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Employment Services

Keep the home fires burning
While Papa’s earning the pittance he calls his pay
You’ve got to get up so early in the morning
To keep your job, let alone find one these days
Hear them sing in the streets now
Hear the sound of marching feet now
Sifun’umsebenzi – work for all – we need to work to be
Sifun’umsebenzi – work for all – there’s a jobless army in the streets
Sifun’umsebenzi – work for all – in a wage, a hidden war
Sifun’umsebenzi – funumsebenzi1

30 years after this song helped entrench Johnny Clegg as one of South Africa’s greatest international stars, its message remains relevant. Finding employment for young work seekers and other vulnerable persons is the aim of the Employment Services Act 2014.2

The Act established an Employment Services Board, to provide for public employment services, as well as Productivity South Africa,3 which is intended to promote employment growth and productivity. The Act also provides for the employment of foreign nationals, and for the registration and regulation of private employment agencies. It falls under the authority of the Minister of Labour.

A. Officials and formalities

Various procedures and kinds of documents can be prescribed by the Minister. These relate to applications for permits, registration of employment agencies, and the like.

  1. It is a crime to obtain (or attempt to obtain) any prescribed document by means of fraud, or false pretences, or by submitting a false or forged document.4

  2. It is an offence knowingly to furnish false information in any prescribed document.5

  3. It is an offence to obstruct, or attempt improperly to influence a person who is performing a function in terms of the Act.6

B. Private employment agencies

This is anyone who provides ‘employment services’7 for gain. It is an offence to operate a private employment agency without being duly registered, or doing so in violation of the registration.8

C. Foreign nationals9

  1. Any person who employs a foreign national before he is able to produce an applicable and valid work permit10 commits an offence.11

  2. It is an offence for an employer to require a foreign national:
    • to perform any work which he is not authorised to perform in terms of his work permit; or
    • to engage in work contrary to the terms of his work permit.12
  3. The employer also commits an offence if he allows a foreign national:
    • to perform any work which he is not authorised to perform in terms of his work permit; or
    • to engage in work contrary to the terms of his work permit.13
  1. The first verse and chorus from ‘Work for All’, the title track of the 4th Album by Juluka, the band led by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu, released in 1983. 

  2. As amended; the latest amendments are effected by Act 4 of 2014. 

  3. The offices of Productivity South Africa are at International Business Gateway, Corner New and Sixth Road, Midrand (tel: 011 848 5300) www.productivitysa.co.za

  4. Section 50(1)a. 

  5. Section 50(1)b. 

  6. Section 50(1)c. 

  7. According to the Act, ‘employment services’ include the following: (a) advising or counselling of workers on career choices, either by the provision of information or other approaches; (b) assessment of work seekers for: entry or re-entry into the labour market; or education and training; (c)referring work seekers: to employers to apply for vacancies or to training providers for education and training; (d) assisting employers: by providing recruitment and placement services; by advising employers on the availability of work seekers with skills that match their needs; (e) performing the functions of temporary employment services; and (f) any other prescribed employment service. See the definitions in section 1. 

  8. Section 50(1)d. 

  9. This is someone who is not a South African citizen, or who does not have a permanent resident permit. See the definition in section 1 of the Act. 

  10. Issued in terms of the Immigration Act 2002. 

  11. Section 50(4) read with section 8(1). 

  12. Section 50(5) read with section 9. 

  13. Section 50(5) read with section 9.