The employment of foreigners in South Africa is regulated by the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 (as amended). Section 38 of the Immigration Act provides that no person shall employ an illegal foreigner. This means that the employee must be in possession of a valid passport/ID and have the necessary working permits required in South Africa. Under no circumstances are businesses allowed to employ any person without the required documentation to work in place. It is illegal to employ a foreigner who does not have a valid working permit and passport.

In terms of section 38(2) of the Immigration Act, a duty is placed on an employer to make an effort, in good faith, to ensure that no illegal foreigner is employed and to ascertain the status or citizenship of the person employed. This means that it will remain management’s responsibility to verify whether the documents provided are legal. You can contact the Department of Home Affairs in your area to verify passport and permit details or use other programmes that might assist in this verification process.

Members need to implement an adequate recruitment system and procedure to ensure that all employees provide a copy of their ID, passport and working permit to confirm various aspects, such as whether the employee is a legal or illegal foreigner through establishing whether the documents are valid and legal or not. Another important factor that this procedure should cover is the employee’s age. Under no circumstances can an employee appoint or allow any child under the age of 15 to engage in any form of labour. Where young workers are concerned, the business must adhere to the requirements set out by law regarding working conditions for employees aged 15 to 17.

For more information on the employment of foreigners or refugees, feel free to visit: