Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says his department is in the process of finalising two new documents which will tighten employment laws, including limitations on the hiring of foreigners.
Nxesi was responding to complaints by truck drivers this week which led to a major blockage of the N3 highway. One of the key complaints raised by the drivers is that jobs are being taken by both legal and illegal foreign workers.
One of the key ways that government plans to address this is through the proposed National Labour Migration Policy, Nxesi said. He noted that the policy aims to achieve a balance across several areas, including:
- The first is to address South Africans’ expectations regarding access to work opportunities, given worsening unemployment and the perception that foreign nationals are distorting labour market access. The NLMP, together with proposed legislation, will introduce quotas on the total number of documented foreign nationals with work visas that can be employed in major economic sectors such as Agriculture, Hospitality and Tourism, Construction, etc.
- The NLMP will be complemented by small business interventions and enforcement of a list of sectors where foreign nationals cannot be allocated business visas and amendments to the Small Business Act to limit foreign nationals establishing SMMEs and trading in some sectors of the economy.
- The Department of Home Affairs is reviewing current legislation and strengthening the Border Management Authority to secure porous borders and to allow for the orderly movement of people and other nationals through ports of entry only.
- Government plans to ramp up inspections to enforce existing labour and immigration legislation.
Employment Services Amendment Bill
Nxesi said the National Labour Migration Policy goes hand in hand with the proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill, which provide the legal basis to regulate the extent to which employers can employ foreign nationals in their establishments while protecting the rights of migrants.
The proposed amendments to the Employment Services Act aim to limit the extent to which employers can employ the number of foreign nationals in possession of a valid work visa in their employment,” he said.
It will also place several obligations on an employer employing foreign workers, including:
- Only employ foreign nationals entitled to work in terms of the Immigration Act, the Refugees Act, or any other provision;
- Ascertain the foreign national is entitled to work in the Republic in the relevant position;
- Satisfy themselves that there are no South Africans with the requisite skills to fill the vacancy;
- Prepare a skills transfer plan, where appropriate;
- Employ foreign nationals on the same terms as local workers; and
- Retain copies of relevant documentation.