“The Department of Labour’s recently released draft amendment bills proposing sweeping changes to SA’s existing labour and employment equity laws are riddled with contradiction, ambiguity, paradox and irony when seen in the context of the government’s stated economic and social objectives”.

“Ironically, the one industry that could be the beneficiary of these changes is the labour- broking industry against which most of this vitriolic attack has been levelled.   The more complex labour laws become, the more the business case to outsource this complexity”.

Business Day has today published an article by Michael Spicer, CEO of Business Leadership SA,  New labour laws will damage the economy which should be required reading for everyone interested in the future of this country.

These few extracts express the concerns of business and must be taken very seriously.

“The authors of these draft bills are either totally out of touch or are wilfully dismissive in their reckoning of what it takes for business to compete on the international stage.

For example, the Employment Services Amendment Bill adds a whole new plethora of bureaucratic steps that need to be navigated when employing foreign workers and for the reporting of all vacancies and appointments.   These include providing the director-general of the Department of Labour with a written motivation detailing why such skills cannot be found locally along with a range of new and impractical, time consuming steps in addition to an already cumbersome process of obtaining work permits from a less than efficient Department of Home Affairs”.

“The business process outsourcing sector, for so long identified and promoted by the Department of Trade and Industry as a sector with much job creating potential, will cease to exist, along with the significant foreign investment that has continued to scout SA as a desirable destination for these operations.   This is due to the sector’s high dependence on the use of temporary contractors, who will now be deemed permanent in terms of the proposed amendments.   Already, there is no doubt that potential foreign investment in this sector is under threat as a result of these draft proposals”.

“Even the engine room for job creation in any modern economy, the emergent business sector, will be negatively affected as it will be held to the same onerous labour law and black economic empowerment requirements and standards as larger companies, which are far better equipped to afford and deal with such complexity”.

“Another concerning implication is the intention to criminalise as well as to impose hefty fines for transgressions of many of these new proposals.

Given the substantial complexities involved, the proposals would unwittingly render much of corporate SA participants in criminal activity”.

“Not only are the proposals contained in these draft bills a staggering contradiction of the government’s economic and social objectives with the potential to destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, but they are also poorly drafted and difficult to interpret”.

“If job creation is indeed the top priority of the government, these proposals are so far wide off the mark that to tinker with them in their current construct would be futile.   As such, the withdrawal of these bills pending a reasoned and rational rethink of these issues, mindful of the likely effect on job creation, economic growth and foreign investment, is the only logical way forward”.