PRETORIA, March 23 (NNN-BUANEWS) -- South Africa's Cabinet has approved two Bills dealing with the phenomenon of labour broking and child labour, among other matters for submission to parliament, says Cabinet Spokesman Jimmy Manyi.
The Cabinet had approved the submission of the amendment Bills for the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) to Parliament, he told journalists Thursday in a briefing of Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.
The Bills will be considered by the Parliamentary Committee on Labour before being submitted to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (lower and upper houses respectively) for adoption.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said the current amendments had their origins in the growing "informalisation" or "casualisation" of work which had become a feature of the South African labour market over the past decade and amendments to the LRA and the BCEA had a major focus on addressing the phenomenon of labour broking.
"One of the issues that we are focusing on ... is that workers are continually being used as causal workers. In responding to that, we are saying temporary work will be limited to six months," she added.
"When it comes to the fixed term contract -- that should be guided on when that project is going to be finalised. Therefore, those workers will be taken as fixed term contract workers. The workers must be paid equally, irrespective of whether that worker is a temporary worker or a permanent worker."
With regards to the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, temporary employment is limited to genuine temporary work that does not exceed six months. There is also protection for those employed in temporary work and who earn below an earnings threshold (set at the BCEA threshold of 172,000 Rand, or about 22,300 USD, per annum).
Unequal treatment of those employed in temporary work who earn below the threshold is prohibited. The amendments introduce the regulation of fixed term contracts for those who earn below the threshold.
An employee who is employed for longer than six months is deemed to be employed for an indefinite period and must be treated no less favourably than a permanent employee doing the same or similar work.
THowever, te provisions relating to fixed term contracts do not apply to employers with less than 10 employees, nor does it apply to employers with less than 50 employees and whose businesses have been in operation for less than two years.
With regards to the BCEA, provisions dealing with the prohibition and regulation of child labour are to be extended to cover all work by children and not only work by children as employees.
These amendments will align the BCEA with South Africa's international law obligations in terms of the International Labour Organisation Convention (No. 182) on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
The maximum term of imprisonment for an offence involving child labour or forced labour will also be increased from three to six years.
Other amendments propose that the minister could set increases to actual wages instead of minimum wages for vulnerable workers in sectoral determinations. -- NNN-BUANEWS