Although there is practically no unemployment in South Africa's skilled labour force, an abundance of unskilled labour is available in both the non-metropolitan industrial areas and in urban industrial zones, with skills being dependent on regional and sectored factors. No restrictions exist on the number of foreign personnel employed on a company's payroll, although the Department of Home Affairs approval will be required for each person, which is complicated by large numbers of persons applying for one company. On the 1st of July 2005, the regulations changed and foreign business owners are now required to employ five South Africans. Before embarking on any venture which has labour implications, it is advisable to consult with a specialist labour lawyer or consultant to establish the legal position.
The Department of Labour plays a significant role in reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality through a set of policies and programmes developed in consultation with social partners, which are aimed at:
Principles Governing Employment in South Africa
Improved economic efficiency and productivity.
Skills development and employment creation.
Sound labour relations.
Eliminating inequality and discrimination in the workplace.
Alleviating poverty in employment.
Small business promotion and development.
Reduction of negative perceptions by investors.
All new investors and business owners are advised to familiarise themselves with Labour Legislation in South Africa. Due to past inequalities, labour legislation and the state of the labour market in South Africa are in an evolutionary stage. Therefore employers should be aware of changes taking place. It is recommended that employers establish good working relations with the trade union relevant to their business in order to promote a productive, skilled and motivated workforce.
Further information may be obtained from:
http://www.labour.gov.za/download/ (Know Your Labour Relations Act 2002).
South Africa is a relatively strongly unionised country. Most unions focus on a specific industry sector, although no union is the single representative in any particular sector.
It is advised that new investors consult with the unions within their industry sector or region, in order that all issues are clarified and agreed upon prior to establishment, so as to prevent potential problems arising from misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
Lists of unions active in a particular sector or region are obtainable from:
Department Of Labour: http://www.labour.gov.za