New guidelines for foreign workers in South Africa

The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) has expressed concern over illegal recruitment practices in South Africa, such as the hiring of immigrant foreign workers who are illegally residing in the country.

The agency said it has established a new National Labour Migration Policy and proposed amendments to the existing Employment Services Act to address these and other challenges.

The department stated in a statement on Tuesday (25 January) that once the Cabinet approves the department’s submission, these proposals would be presented for a three-month public discussion period by the end of February/March 2022.

During May/June, social partners at Nedlac will have the opportunity to make changes to the Policy and Bill before it will be submitted to Parliament, according to the statement.

These plans, according to the agency, will focus on four specific areas that will significantly alter the country’s labour market:


Given the growing level of unemployment and perception or views that foreign nationals, particularly undocumented immigrants, are distorting labour market access, the department highlighted that the South African people have ‘expectations’ about access to work for local citizens.

Some businesses promote this practice by failing to comply with existing labour laws and undermining existing minimum standards.

Undesirable sectors

“The Employment and Labour National Labour Migration Policy will introduce maximum quotas on the total number of documented foreign nationals with work visas that can be employed in major economic sectors such as Agriculture, Hospitality and Tourism, Construction just to name a few.”

Small company involvement and enforcement of a list of undesirable industries where foreign nationals cannot be granted business visas will be added to the National Labour Migration Policy.

This will include changes to the Small Business Act that will restrict foreign nationals from starting SMMEs and trading in certain sectors of the economy.

Immigration changes

To ensure more alignment, the Department of Home Affairs is now examining the Immigration Act, the Citizenship Act, and the Refugees Act.

“The Department of Home Affairs’ Border Management Authority is also taking steps to safeguard porous borders and allow for the orderly movement of persons and other nations solely through ports of entry,” the department said.

Critical skills list

The Department of Higher Education and Training has issued recommendations to all institutions on how to prioritize education and training interventions in those areas that are in high demand.

“The list will be used as a last option to grant work visas to foreign nationals who possess the stated abilities that the economy requires and for whom job offers have been received.”

According to the department, “the government will put different requirements on both the employer and the foreign national to transfer skills to locals, and permits will be limited to particular durations.”

Source: BusinessTech

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