Labour broking offers entry to the world of decent work

labour broking.jpgResearch suggests that the labour broking industry plays a significant role in introducing jobless people into the formal world of decent work, says Loane Sharp, labour economist at Adcorp Holdings.

Between one-third and one-half of labour broker workers (depending on the particular sector) are first-time job-seekers, suggesting that the labour broking industry provides an essential service to unemployed people seeking an alternative entry-point into the labour market.

The statistics come from a survey of 110 labour brokers, representing 268 777 labour broker workers, or 29.8% of the industry total, conducted by Topline Research Solutions using client databases provided by the Confederation of Associations in the Private Employment Sector (CAPES).

A total of 72% of labour broker workers’ contracts end because they find permanent jobs, further reinforcing the impression that labour brokers are an essential entry-point into the formal world of decent work for unemployed/never previously employed people.

Furthermore, National Association of Bargaining Council (NABC) figures indicate that the labour broking industry is significantly larger than an estimated 500 000, with 979 539 labour broker workers in South Africa’s labour market.

Significantly, the findings of Topline’s research disagree with the “assumptions and assertions made by the Department of Labour and several trade unions that labour brokers are exploitative businesses designed to circumvent labour laws and regulations,” explains Sharp, countering that:

• 98% of labour brokers are Skills Development Levy-payers.
• 77% of labour brokers’ candidates are word-of-mouth referrals, indicating that a large proportion of labour brokers’ assignees feel sufficiently positive about their work experiences with labour brokers to promote or recommend them to their friends and family.
• 81% of assignee’s contracts are terminated because the contract period ends, which tends to refute the claim made by the Department of Labour and several trade unions that labour brokers are a “subterfuge” for avoiding labour relations and, especially, dismissal protections.
• At any given time 53 844 assignees (or 6.0% of the total) are enrolled on learnerships, apprenticeships, recognition-of-prior-learning, and other skills programmes.
• 59% of assignees are represented by a bargaining council and/or workplace forum.
• Temp remuneration is overwhelmingly (90%) determined by the client and/or market trends.
• 100% of labour brokers provide statutory benefits to their assignees (leave provisions, unemployment insurance, workmen’s compensation, etc.).
• 93% of labour brokers provide some sort of employee assistance programme to their assignees, including counselling (HIV/Aids, trauma, substance abuse, etc.) (56%) and training (orientation, workplace readiness, etc.) (42%).

Meanwhile, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) produced figures that indicate labour brokers, while representing 7.6% of total employment in South Africa, represent just 0.9% of CCMA disputes, suggesting that the labour broking industry is characterized by relatively few (formal) employer/employee disputes.

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