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Nigeria

9. Corruption

Government Procurement

Foreign companies, whether incorporated in Nigeria or not, may bid on government projects and generally receive national treatment in government procurement, but may also be subject to a local content vehicle (e.g., partnership with a local partner firm or the inclusion of one in a consortium) or other prerequisites which are likely to vary from tender to tender.  Corruption and lack of transparency in tender processes has been a far greater concern to U.S. companies than discriminatory policies based on foreign status. Government tenders are published in local newspapers, a “tenders” journal sold at local newspaper outlets, and on occasion in foreign journals and magazines. The Nigerian government has made modest progress on its pledge to conduct open and competitive bidding processes for government procurement with the introduction of the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO) in 2017 under the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

The Public Procurement Law of 2007 established the BPP as the successor agency to the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit.  The BPP acts as a clearinghouse for government contracts and procurement and monitors the implementation of projects to ensure compliance with contract terms and budgetary restrictions.  Procurements above 100 million naira (about USD 277,550) reportedly undergo full “due process,” but government agencies routinely flaunt public procurement requirements. Some of the 36 states of the federation have also passed public procurement legislation.

The reforms have also improved transparency in procurement by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).  Although U.S. companies have won contracts in a number of sectors, difficulties in receiving payment are not uncommon and can deter firms from bidding.  Supplier or foreign government subsidized financing arrangements appear in some cases to be a crucial factor in the award of government procurements. Nigeria is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

In July 2016, Nigeria announced its participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a potentially significant step forward on public financial management and fiscal transparency.  In December 2016, the Ministry of Justice presented Nigeria’s National Action Plan (NAP) for the OGP.  Implementation of its 14 commitments has been slow, but some progress has been made, particularly on the issues such as tax transparency, ease of doing business, and asset recovery. The NAP, which runs through 2019, covers five major themes: ensuring citizens’ participation in the budget cycle, implementation of open contracting and the adoption of open contracting data standards, increasing transparency in the extractive sectors, adopting common reporting standards like the Addis Tax initiative, and improving the ease of doing business.  Full implementation of the NAP would be a significant step forward for Nigeria’s fiscal transparency, although Nigeria has not fully completed any commitment to date.

Businesses report that bribery of customs and port officials remains common, and often necessary to avoid extended delays in the port clearance process, and that smuggled goods routinely enter Nigeria’s seaports and cross its land borders.

Domestic and foreign observers identify corruption as a serious obstacle to economic growth and poverty reduction.  Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), placing it in the 144th position out of the 180 countries ranked, a one-point decline from its 2016 score of 28 and a stagnant score from 2017.  The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act of 2004 established the EFCC to prosecute individuals involved in financial crimes and other acts of economic “sabotage.” Traditionally, the EFCC has encountered the most success in prosecuting low-level internet scam operators.  A relative few high-profile convictions have taken place, such as a former governor of Adamawa state, a former governor of Bayelsa State, a former Inspector General of Police, and a former Chair of the Board of the Nigerian Port Authority. However, in the case of the convicted governor of Bayelsa State, the President of Nigeria pardoned him in March 2013.  The case of the former governor of Adamawa, who was convicted in 2017, is under appeal and he is currently free on bail.

Since taking office in 2015, President Buhari has focused on implementing a campaign pledge to address corruption, though his critics contend his anti-corruption efforts often target political rivals.  Since then, the EFCC arrested a former National Security Advisor (NSA), a former Minister of State for Finance, a former NSA Director of Finance and Administration and others on charges related to diversion of funds intended for government arms procurement.

The Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2001 established an Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to prosecute individuals, government officials, and businesses for corruption.  The Act punishes over 19 offenses, including accepting or giving bribes, fraudulent acquisition of property, and concealment of fraud. Nigerian law stipulates that giving and receiving bribes constitute criminal offences and, as such, are not tax deductible.  Since its inauguration, the ICPC has secured convictions in 71 cases (through 2015, latest data available) with nearly 300 cases still open and pending as of July 2018. In April 2014, a presidential committee set up to review Nigeria’s ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) recommended that the EFCC, the ICPC, and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) be merged into one organization.  The federal government, however, rejected this proposal to consolidate the work of these three anti-graft agencies.

Nigeria gained admittance into the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) in May 2007.  In September 2018, the Egmont Group lifted its suspension of Nigeria’s membership, put in place in July 2017 due to concerns about the Nigeria FIU’s operational autonomy and ability to protect classified information.  The suspension was lifted due to the Nigerian government’s efforts to address the concerns, through the passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Act in July 2018.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Nigeria from its list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories in June 2006.  In October 2013, the FATF decided that Nigeria had substantially addressed the technical requirements of its FATF Action Plan and agreed to remove Nigeria from its monitoring process conducted by FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).  Nigeria, as a member of the Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), is an associated member of FATF.

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act of 2007 provided for the establishment of the NEITI organization, charged with developing a framework for transparency and accountability in the reporting and disclosure by all extractive industry companies of revenue due to or paid to the Nigerian government.  NEITI serves as a member of the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which provides a global standard for revenue transparency for extractive industries like oil and gas and mining. Nigeria is party to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Nigeria is not a member of the OECD and not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

Headquarters:  No. 5, Fomella Street, Off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, Nigeria. Branch offices in Ikoyi, Lagos State; Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Independence Layout, Enugu State; Kano, Kano State; Gombe, Gombe State.

Hotline: +234 9 9044752 or +234 9 9044753

Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission:

Abuja Office – Headquarters
Plot 802 Constitution Avenue, Central District, PMB 535, Garki Abuja
Phone/Fax: 234 9 523 8810
Email: info@icpc.gov.ng

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Nigeria’s skilled labor pool has declined over the past decade due to inadequate educational systems, limited employment opportunities, and the migration of educated Nigerians to other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and South Africa.  The low employment capacity of Nigeria’s formal sector means that almost three-quarters of all Nigerians work in the informal and agricultural sectors or are unemployed. Companies involved in formal sector businesses such as banking and insurance possess an adequately skilled workforce.  Manufacturing and construction sector workers often require on-the-job training. The result is that while individual wages are low, individual productivity is also low which means overall labor costs can be high. The Buhari Administration is pushing reforms in the education sector to improve the supply of skilled workers, but this and other efforts run by state governors are in their initial stages.

Labor organizations in Nigeria remain politically active and are prone to call for strikes on a regular basis against the national and state governments.  While most labor actions are peaceful, difficult economic conditions fuel the risk that these actions could become violent.

The Right of Association

Nigeria’s constitution guarantees the rights of free assembly and association, and protects workers’ rights to form or belong to trade unions.  Several statutory laws, nonetheless, restrict the rights of workers to associate or disassociate with labor organizations. Nigerian unions belong to one of three trade union federations:  the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), which tends to represent junior (i.e., blue collar) workers; the United Labor Congress of Nigeria (ULC), which represents a group of unions that separated from the NLC in 2015; and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) representing the “senior” (i.e., white collar) workers.  According to figures provided by the Ministry of Labor and Employment, total union membership stands at roughly 7 million. A majority of these union members work in the public sector, although unions exist across the private sector. The Trade Union Amendment Act of 2005 allowed non-management senior staff to join unions.

Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining occurred throughout the public sector and the organized private sector in 2018.  However, public sector employees have become increasingly concerned about the Nigerian governments’ and state governments’ failure to honor previous agreements from the collective bargaining process.

Collective bargaining in the oil and gas industry is relatively efficient compared to other sectors. Issues pertaining to salaries, benefits, health and safety, and working conditions tend to be resolved quickly through negotiations.

Workers under collective bargaining agreements cannot participate in strikes unless their unions comply with the requirements of the law, which includes provisions for mandatory mediation and referral of disputes to the Nigerian government.  Despite these restrictions on staging strikes, unions occasionally conduct strikes in the private and public sectors without warning. Localized strikes occurred in the education, government, energy, power, and healthcare sectors in 2018. The law forbids employers from granting general wage increases to workers without prior government approval, but the law is not often enforced.  Major negotiations between the main labor unions and the federal government occurred in 2018 regarding the minimum wage and the unions’ demands for it to be raised from 18,000 naira (USD 50) per month to 30,000 naira (USD 83) per month. The National Assembly passed the 2019 Appropriations bill which included the newly agreed upon minimum wage in January 2019, though it has yet to be fully implemented. The minimum wage bill awaits the president’s assent although several state governments already announced their inability to pay.

The Nigerian Minister of Labor and Employment may refer unresolved disputes to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and the National Industrial Court (NIC).  In 2015, the National Industrial Court launched an Alternative Dispute Resolution Center. Union officials question the effectiveness and independence of the NIC, believing it unable to resolve disputes stemming from Nigerian government failure to fulfill contract provisions for public sector employees.  Union leaders criticize the arbitration system’s dependence on the Minister of Labor and Employment’s referrals to the IAP.

Child Labor

Nigeria’s laws regarding minimum age for child labor and hazardous work are inconsistent. Article 59 of the Labor Act of 1974 sets the minimum age of employment at 12, and it is in force in all 36 states of Nigeria.  The Act also permits children of any age to do light work alongside a family member in agriculture, horticulture, or domestic service.

The Federal 2003 Child Rights Act (CRA) codifies the rights of children in Nigeria and must be ratified by each state to become law in its territory.  To date, 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory have ratified the CRA, with all 12 of the remaining states located in northern Nigeria.

The CRA states that the provisions related to young people in the Labor Act apply to children under the CRA, but also that the CRA supersedes any other legislation related to children.  The CRA restricts children under the age of 18 from any work aside from light work for family members; however, Article 59 of the Labor Act applies these restrictions only to children under the age of 12.  This language makes it unclear what minimum ages apply for certain types of work in the country.

While the Labor Act forbids the employment of youth under age 18 in work that is dangerous to their health, safety, or morals, it allows children to participate in certain types of work that may be dangerous by setting different age thresholds for various activities.  For example, the Labor Act allows children age 16 and older to work at night in gold mining and the manufacturing of iron, steel, paper, raw sugar, and glass. Furthermore, the Labor Act does not extend to children employed in domestic service. Thus, children are vulnerable to dangerous work in industrial undertakings, underground, with machines, and in domestic service.  In addition, the prohibitions established by the Labor Act and CRA are not comprehensive or specific enough to facilitate enforcement. In 2013, the National Steering Committee for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Nigeria (NSC) validated the Report on the Identification of Hazardous Child Labor in Nigeria. The report has languished with the Ministry of Labor and Employment and still awaits the promulgation of guidelines for operationalizing the report.

The Nigerian government adopted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition), Enforcement, and Administration Act of 2015 on March 26, 2015.  While not specifically directed against child labor, many sections of the new law support anti-child labor efforts.   The Violence against Persons Prohibition Act was signed into law in on May 25, 2015 and again while not specifically focused on child labor, it covers related elements such as “depriving a person of his/her liberty,” “forced financial dependence/economic abuse,” and “forced isolation/separation from family and friends” and is applicable to minors.

Acceptable Conditions of Work

Nigeria’s Labor Act provides for a 40-hour work week, two to four weeks of annual leave, and overtime and holiday pay for all workers except agricultural and domestic workers.  No law prohibits compulsory overtime. The Act establishes general health and safety provisions, some of which specifically apply to young or female workers, and requires the Ministry of Labor and Employment to inspect factories for compliance with health and safety standards.  Under-funding and limited resources undermine the Ministry’s oversight capacity, and construction sites and other non-factory work sites are often ignored. Nigeria’s labor law requires employers to compensate injured workers and dependent survivors of workers killed in industrial accidents.

Draft legislation, such as a new Labor Standards Act which includes provisions on child labor, and an Occupational Safety and Health Act that would regulate hazardous work, have remained under consideration in the National Assembly since 2006.

Foreign Workers

Admission of foreign workers is overseen by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.  Employers must seek the consent of the Ministry in order to employ foreign workers by applying for an “expatriate quota.”  The quota allows a company to employ foreign nationals in specifically approved job designations as well as specifying the validity period of the designations provided on the quota.

There are two types of visas which may be granted, depending on the length of stay.  For short-term assignments, an employer must apply for and receive a temporary work permit, allowing the employee to carry out some specific tasks.  The temporary work permit is a single-entry visa, and expires after three months. There are no numerical limitations on short-term visas, and foreign nationals who meet the conditions for grant of a visa may apply for as many short-term visas as required.

For long-term assignments, the employer should apply for a “subject-to-regularization” visa (STR). To apply for an STR, an employer must apply for and obtain an expatriate quota.  The expatriate quota lists positions in the company that will be occupied by expatriate staff. Upon arrival in Nigeria, the employee will need to validate his or her visa by applying for a work and residence permit.

South Africa

9. Corruption

South Africa has a robust anti-corruption framework, but laws are inadequately enforced and accountability in public sectors tends to be low. The law provides for criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, and the government continued efforts to curb corruption, but officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.

High-level political interference has undermined the ability of the country’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) – constitutionally responsible for all prosecutions – to pursue criminal proceedings and enforce accountability.  After an unprecedented consultative process, President Ramaphosa appointed Shamila Batohi as the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) in December 2018, and he created an Investigative Directorate within her office in March 2019 to focus on the significant number of cases emanating from ongoing corruption investigations.  The Constitutional Court ruled in August 2018 that Zuma’s appointment of Shaun Abrahams as the former NDPP was invalid and ordered President Ramaphosa to replace Abrahams within 90 days. Widely praised by civil society, the court also ordered former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana to repay a “golden handshake” (an illegal departure bonus) of 10.2 million rand (USD 788,000) he received when Zuma replaced him with Abrahams in 2015.

The Department of Public Service and Administration formally coordinates government initiatives against corruption, and the “Hawks” – South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations – focuses on organized crime, economic crimes, and corruption.  In 2018, the Office of the Public Protector, a constitutionally mandated body designed to investigate government abuse and mismanagement, investigated thousands of cases, some of which involved high-level officials. The public and NGOs considered the Office of the Public Protector independent and effective, despite limited funding.  According to the NPA’s 2017-2018 Annual Report, it recovered 410,000 rand (USD 31,700) from government officials involved in corruption, a 92-percent decrease from the previous year.  Courts convicted 213 government officials of corruption.

The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PCCA) officially criminalizes corruption in public and private sectors and codifies specific offenses (such as extortion and money laundering), making it easier for courts to enforce the legislation.  Applying to both domestic and foreign organizations doing business in the country, the PCCA covers receiving or offering bribes, influencing witnesses and tampering with evidence in ongoing investigations, obstruction of justice, contracts, procuring and withdrawal of tenders, and conflict of interests, among other areas.  Inconsistently implemented, the PCCA does not include any protectionary measures for whistleblowers.  Complementary acts – such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the Public Finance Management Act – calls for increased access to public information and review of government expenditures.

“State capture” – the popular term used to describe systemic corruption of the state’s decision-making processes by private interests – has become synonymous with the administration of former president Jacob Zuma.  In response to widespread calls for accountability, President Cyril Ramaphosa has denounced corruption since assuming office in February 2018. He has vowed to tackle the scourge at all levels of government, including through proposed lifestyle audits of officials to expose bribery, corruption, and public tender irregularities.  He has also launched four separate judicial commissions of inquiry to investigate corruption, fraud, and maladministration, including in the Public Investment Corporation, South African Revenue Service, National Prosecuting Authority, and writ large across the government. These commissions have revealed pervasive networks of criminality across all levels of the municipal, provincial, and national government.  Numerous former senior officials had already testified before the commission; a number of them directly implicated former president Jacob Zuma in corruption cases.

Corruption charges were reinstated against Zuma in 2018 related to a USD 2.5-billion arms deal in the late 1990s.  The Zuma-linked Gupta family, which owns interests in multiple industries from computer services to mining, has also been placed under investigation and its assets frozen while the state investigates allegations of state capture, bribery, and the siphoning off of public funds meant for small-holder farmers.  These and other ongoing efforts are meant to rebuild the public’s trust in government and to foment transparency and predictability in the business environment in order to woo investors.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

South Africa signed the Anticorruption Convention on 9 Dec 2003 and ratified it on 22 Nov 2004.  South Africa also signed the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery in 2007, with implementing legislation dating from 2004.

South Africa is also a party to the SADC Protocol Against Corruption, which promotes the development of mechanisms needed to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption in the public and private sector.  The protocol also seeks to facilitate and regulate cooperation in matters of corruption amongst Member States and foster development and harmonization of policies and domestic legislation related to corruption.  The Protocol defines ‘acts of corruption,’ preventative measures, jurisdiction of Member States, as well as extradition. http://www.sadc.int/files/7913/5292/8361/Protocol_Against_Corruption2001.pdf 

Resources to Report Corruption

To report corruption to the government:

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Public Protector
Office of the Public Protector, South Africa
175 Lunnon Street, Hillcrest Office Park, Pretoria 0083

Anti-Corruption Hotline: +27 80 011 2040 or +27 12 366 7000
http://www.pprotect.org   or customerservice@pprotect.org

Or for a non-government agency:

David Lewis
Executive Director
Corruption Watch
87 De Korte Street, Braamfontein/Johannesburg 2001
+27 80 002 3456 or +27 11 242 3900
http://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/content/make-your-complaint  
info@corruptionwatch.org.za

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Since 1994, the South African government has replaced apartheid-era labor legislation with policies that emphasize employment security, fair wages, and decent working conditions.  Under the aegis of the National Economic Development and Labor Council (NEDLAC), government, business, and organized labor are to negotiate all labor laws, with the exception of laws pertaining to occupational health and safety.  The South African Constitution and South African laws allows workers to form or join trade unions without previous authorization or excessive requirements. Labor unions that meet a locally negotiated minimum threshold of representation (often, 50 percent plus one union member) are entitled to represent the entire workplace in negotiations with management.  As the majority union or representative union, they may also extract agency fees from non-union members present in the workplace. In some workplaces and job sectors, this financial incentive has encouraged inter-union rivalries, including intimidation and violence, as unions compete for the maximum share of employees in seeking the status of representative union.

In February 2019, South Africa reported a year-on-year unemployment rate increase of 0.4 percentage point to 27.1 percent.  However, labor force participation increased by 0.6 percentage points to 59.4 percent from 58.8 percent in 2018. The youth unemployment (ages 15-24) rate has hovered at or just over 50 percent since 2015.  Approximately 3.2 million (31.1 percent) of the 10.3 million of these South Africans were not in employment, education, or training. On a quarterly basis, employment in the formal sector increased in all industries with the exception of professional employment and skilled agriculture.

There are 205 trade unions registered with the Department of Labor as of February 2019, up from 190 the prior year, but down from the 2002 high of 504.  According to the 2018 Fourth Quarter Labor Force Survey (QLFS) report from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), 4.04 million workers belonged to a union, an increase of 511,000 from the fourth quarter of 2017.  Department of Labor statistics indicate union density declined from 45.2 percent in 1997 to 24.7 percent in 2014, the most recent data available. Using StatsSA data, however, union density can be calculated: The February 2019 QLFS reported 4.041 million union members and 13.992 million employees, for a union density of 28.9 percent.

The right to strike is protected under South Africa’s constitution and laws.  The law allows workers to strike due to matters of mutual interest, such as wages, benefits, organizational rights disputes, socioeconomic interests of workers, and similar measures. Workers may not strike because of disputes where other legal recourse exists, such as through arbitration. Although the number of workdays lost to strikes jumped from 480,000 in 2017 to 1.95 million in 2018, the figure remains low in comparison to the 2005-2014 period in which every year but one (2008) saw lost workdays total at least 2.3 million.  Long-running strikes in the plastics and mining sector accounted for the 2018 increase. Strikes in 2018 were triggered almost exclusively (96 percent of strikes) by wages and grievances. The health and education sectors saw the most strikes in 2018, followed by miners and municipal sector workers. Due to long-running strikes in the plastics and mining sectors, these industries saw the most work days lost to strikes in 2018.

Layoffs and retrenchments are permitted for economic reasons, but they are subject to a statutory process requiring consultations between employers and labor unions in an effort to reach consensus.

Employers and employees are each required to pay one percent of workers’ wages to the national unemployment fund.  The fund pays benefits based on reverse sliding scale of the prior salary, up to 58 percent of the prior wage, for up to 34 weeks.

There are robust labor dispute resolution institutions in South Africa, including the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the bargaining councils, and specialized labor courts of both first instance and appellate jurisdiction.

Improved labor stability is essential for South Africa’s economic stability and development and vital to the country’s ability to continue to attract and retain foreign investment.  The government of South Africa does not waive labor laws to attract or retain investment.

Collective bargaining is a cornerstone of the current labor relations framework.  As of February 2019, the South Africa Department of Labor listed 39 private sector bargaining councils through which parties negotiate wages and conditions of employment.  Per the Labor Relations Act, the Minister of Labor must extend agreements reached in bargaining councils to non-parties of the agreement operating in the same sector. Employer federations, particularly those representing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) argue the extension of these agreements – often reached between unions and big business – negatively impacts SMEs that cannot afford to pay higher wages.  In 2018, the average wage settlement resulted in a 7.2 percent wage increase, on average 2.6 percent above the increase in South Africa’s consumer price index and down slightly from the average increase of 7.6 percent in 2017.

Major labor legislation includes:

As of January 1, 2019, South Africa has a national minimum wage of R20/hour, with lower rates for domestic (R16/hour) and agricultural (R 18/hour) workers.  This rate is subject to annual increases as suggested by the 13-member National Minimum Wage Commission and as approved by parliament and signed by the president.

In November 2018, President Ramaphosa signed an amendment to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act which provides benefits to new parents.  Fathers may now claim ten days of paternity leave, whereas adoptive parents and commissioning parents in a surrogate motherhood agreement may now claim ten weeks of leave.  South Africa’s Unemployment Fund funds this leave at the same rate for unemployment claims (see above) and not at the claiming employee’s wage rate.

The Labor Relations Act (LRA), in effect since 1995 with amendments made in 2014, provides fair dismissal guidelines, dispute resolution mechanisms, and retrenchment guidelines stating employers must consider alternatives to retrenchment and must consult all relevant parties when considering possible layoffs.  The Act enshrines the right of workers to strike and of management to lock out striking workers. The Act created the Commission on Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA), which can conciliate, mediate, and arbitrate in cases of labor disputes, and is required to certify an impasse in bargaining council negotiations before a strike can be called legally.  The CCMA’s caseload currently exceeds what was anticipated; the South African Government provided the CCMA an additional USD 60 million to handle its caseload and any possible increase caused by the 2014 amendments to the LRA. Amendments to the LRA modify the regulation of temporary employment service firms, extend organizational rights to workplaces with a majority of temporary or fixed term contract workers, reduces the maximum period of temporary or fixed term contract employment to three months, establishes joint liability by temporary employment services and their clients for contraventions of employment law, and strengthens other protections for temporary or contract workers.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), implemented in 1997 and amended in 2014, establishes a 45-hour workweek, standardizes time-and-a-half pay for overtime, and authorizes four months of maternity leave for women. No employer may require or permit an employee to work overtime except by agreement, and overtime may not be more than 10 hours a week. The law stipulates rest periods of 12 consecutive hours daily and 36 hours weekly and must include Sunday. The law allows adjustments to rest periods by mutual agreement. A ministerial determination exempted businesses employing fewer than 10 persons from certain provisions of the law concerning overtime and leave.  Farmers and other employers can apply for variances from the law by showing good cause. The law applies to all workers, including workers in informal sectors, foreign nationals, and migrant workers, but the government did not prioritize labor protections for workers in the informal economy. The law prohibits employment of children under age 15 and prohibits anyone from requiring or permitting a child under age 15 to work. The law allows children under age 15 to work in the performing arts, but only if their employers receive permission from the Department of Labor and agree to follow specific guidelines. Amendments made in 2014 clarify the definitions of employment, employers, and employees to reflect international labor conventions, closing a loophole that previously existed in South African law between the LRA and the BCEA.  The Act gives the Minister of Labor the power to set sectoral minimum wages and annual minimum wage increases for employees not covered by sectoral minimum wage agreements.

The Employment Equity Act of 1998 (EEA), amended in 2014, protects all workers against unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, age, gender, religion, marital status, pregnancy, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, disability, conscience, belief, political, opinion, culture, language, HIV status, birth, or any other arbitrary ground. The EEA further requires large- and medium-sized companies to prepare employment equity plans to ensure that historically disadvantaged South Africans, such as Blacks, South Asians, and Coloreds, as well as women and disabled persons, are adequately represented in the workforce.  The EEA amendments increase fines for non-compliance with employment equity measures and have a new provision of equal pay for work of equal value. The Act prohibits the use of foreign nationals to meet employers’ affirmative action targets and relaxes the standards for parties in labor disputes to access the CCMA instead of going directly to the Labor Court.

More information regarding South African labor legislation can be found at:  www.labour.gov.za/legislation  

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