The recruitment process plays a vital role in any company or business. The recruitment process must be adequate, transparent, effective and implemented with responsibility by adequately trained/experienced staff. The requirements around responsible recruitment form part of the SIZA Social Standard and should remain a focus within the responsible management systems of any business.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Section 48, prohibits forced labour in any form, and no one may, for their own benefit or to benefit someone else, cause, demand, or impose forced labour. It is vital to remember that no employee may be required to make any payment associated with the recruitment process or to get a job. Recruitment and any costs related to the process must be paid for by the producer, including returnable deposits. In cases where this practice is picked up during an audit, the business will receive a finding that can escalate to a critical finding. Employers will be jointly liable with the perpetrator if another party, such as an employment agency, temporary employment service or supervisor, was responsible for the illegal request for money to be paid during the recruitment process.
When employees request financial assistance from management, which is often the case for seasonal employees travelling from afar, such requests and help must be clearly documented and demonstrate that the transaction was voluntary on the part of the employee. If any “benefits” are provided to the worker at a cost, for example, transport, advance payment to purchase food, bedding and so on, these must be voluntary, and there must be evidence that the worker has requested these items. Remember that an “advance” could be interpreted as a form of bonded labour unless clear written evidence shows that this was done at the employee’s request. Due to the precariousness of loans, the business should only consider loans in exceptional cases. The loan system should clearly stipulate the loan conditions. Interest cannot be charged on loans if the employer is not registered as a credit provider and cannot comply with the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. Deductions, of whatever nature, must:
- be clearly documented;
- be specific – i.e., not a general authorisation for any deductions to be made;
- indicate the nature and amount of the loan/advance;
- indicate repayment terms/amounts to be deducted;
- no interest may be payable by the worker;
- be signed by the workers themselves.
Repayment terms must conform to national legislation and ILO conventions governing deductions from wages for repayment of loans. Management may not permit or encourage employees to incur debt through recruitment fees, fines, or any other means.
For more information on the requirements around forced and bonded labour, feel free to view the SIZA Social Standard: https://siza.co.za/standard/social-standard/