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National Employment Policy Under Development 

May 26, 2022

Department of Employment and Labour

The first draft of the South African National Employment Policy has been completed.

The employment and labour minister, Thulas Nxesi, announced this in his department’s 2022 Budget Vote speech in parliament.

The policy is being drafted in collaboration with the International Labour Organization and leading local experts.

“Following a rigorous situational analysis, the first draft of the policy has been completed for consultation with social partners”, he said.

Reference was also made to the Draft National Labour Migration Policy, released for comment earlier this year together with the Draft Employment Services Amendment Bill.

In the draft policy’s foreword, the minister pointed out that the department “researched extensively and benchmarked internationally in search of policy based on best practice”.

The minister added that it became increasingly clear over the past few years that South Africa is in need of “innovative, radical policy transformation in the area of labour migration in order to meet the needs and expectations of its citizenry as well as those of its partners in the region”.

The draft policy is designed as a “rights-based, gender-sensitive development-oriented policy instrument” that will supplement South Africa’s international migration policy.

It emphasizes that the absence of a streamlined labour migration policy framework will perpetuate a fragmented and inconsistent approach to labour migration; non-aligned institutional frameworks; irregular labour migration; lack of critical skills and the absence of a framework for supporting and channeling South Africans wanting to work abroad.

In terms of the draft bill, a new Chapter 3A on employment of foreign nationals is proposed.

It focuses on employment of foreign nationals; quotas for employment of foreign nationals; regulations on employment of foreign nationals; employees employed in contravention of chapter and prohibited acts in respect of foreign nationals.

As regards the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, passed by parliament earlier this month, the minister highlighted that the proposed legislation is intended to “expedite the pace of transformation in the labour market and ensure that those non-compliant organisations that resist transformation do not continue to financially benefit from state contracts or doing business with any organ of state”.

The bill aims to amend the Employment Equity Act, 1998, so as to:

• amend a definition;
• insert certain definitions, to substitute a definition and to delete a definition;
• provide for the Minister to identify sectoral numerical targets in order to ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups;
• provide criteria for the Minister to issue certificates; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The minister also referred to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill, recently amended by the national council of provinces and returned to the national assembly for consideration of the proposed amendments.

The bill seeks to amend the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993, so as to:

• amend, substitute, insert, delete and repeal certain definitions and sections;
• provide for matters pertaining to the Board and its members;
• provide for the Commissioner to perform certain functions that were previously performed by the Director-General;
• further provide for matters pertaining to the rehabilitation, re-integration and return to work of occupationally injured and diseased employees;
• regulate the use of health care services;
• provide for the Commissioner to review pension claims or awards;
• provide for administrative penalties;
• regulate compliance and enforcement; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The portfolio committee on employment and labour will consider the proposed amendments.

A Draft Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill is also in the pipeline.

The draft bill was published for comment last year.

The draft bill seeks to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, so as to:

• delete, substitute and insert certain definitions;
• effect certain technical corrections;
• make further provision in respect of the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery;
• further regulate the protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work;
• further regulate the composition of an advisory council for occupational health and safety; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The draft bill aims to strengthen the safety measures of workers in their respective workplaces and introduces provisions that empower employees to withhold their labour should they feel the environment is dangerous and unsafe without being victimized by employers.