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National Labour Migration Policy Under the Spotlight

March 22, 2022

Department of Employment and Labour

The South African Constitution and labour legislation provides labour rights and protections to all workers, irrespective of country of origin.

The employment and labour minister, Thulas Nxesi, reiterated this during a keynote address at the launch and handover of the Malelane Labour Centre in Mpumalanga.

The minister added that the “efforts of populist politicians to whip up xenophobic sentiment – with unlawful inspections and intimidation of people in the workplace and the community” must be condemned.

“So we must unite in condemning the violent Dudula campaign against non-nationals, and the SAPS must do their work to apprehend criminals and protect all the people”, he said.

The minister called on stakeholders to comment on the Draft National Labour Migration Policy.

The draft policy was published for comment at the end of February 2022 together with the Draft Employment Services Amendment Bill.

In the draft policy’s foreword, the minister points out that the employment and labour 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 was 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 the address, the minister declared that the draft policy aims to achieve a balance between the South African population’s expectations acquiring work, local labour market needs including critical skills, protection of migrant workers and their families and regional integration and cooperation imperatives.

Comment on the draft policy and draft bill is invited within 90 days of the date of publication.

Meanwhile, the department has republished the Code of Good Practice: Managing Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the Workplace in Government Gazette 46058.

The Code was first published in Gazette 46043 with an issue date of 15 February 2022.

The latest notice reflects the correct issue date of 15 March 2022.

The Code is designed to guide employers and employees in managing exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the workplace by providing guidance to employers and employees in, inter alia, conducting or updating a risk assessment in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations in respect of SARS-CoV-2 exposure; developing a plan to limit infection and transmission; implementing the plan; managing absence from work due to infection, isolation and adverse effects of vaccination and accommodating employees who refuse or fail to vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2.

The Code focuses on risk assessment and plan and administrative measures.

The plan is for the Code to come into effect on the date when the Covid-19 state of disaster lapses.

According to the department, once the Disaster Management Act Regulations and Directions fall away, there will still be a need to prevent and mitigate the risks associated with SARS-CoV-2 exposure in the workplace hence the requirement for the Code.

In Gazette 46056, the department announced, in terms of the Labour Relations Act, that Master Builders and Allied Trades’ Association, Cape Peninsula has changed its name to Master Builders and Allied Trades Association, Western Cape with effect from 7 December 2021.