Providing employee accommodation for permanent and seasonal agri-employees is a common phenomenon on South African farms. This is likely due to historical systems which have created a framework for the more labour-intensive industries to operate more effectively. Although there is not much legislation for housing within agriculture specifically in South Africa, the requirements and drive to best practice are driven and based on a combination of several Acts and Regulations across the South African legal framework. At the heart of these requirements is that employee welfare and safety are prioritised, along with the dual responsibility that rests with both the employer and the occupant. This dynamic must be evaluated during social audits.

The SIZA Social Standard requires that housing must be hygienic, structurally safe, and meet the minimum health and safety standards. It is important to remember that auditors must be able to verify this during audits. For this reason, the auditor will sample housing areas for inspection and evaluation during their visual inspection. It is important to remember that auditors will request permission from an employee/occupier to gain entry if they are present at the facilities. However, as site management will have requested the audit, they will need to provide access to these facilities during the inspection to illustrate their commitment to identify potential improvements and allow the auditor to complete a thorough review of the accommodation facilities. The business will not only become aware of potential concerns, but also utilise this as an inspection to identify issues such as mould, hygiene problems, broken implements, or potential structural dangers. There is a dual responsibility on employees and employers to maintain the health and safety of the housing facilities; however, if any severe risk to life or limb is noted, the owner and management will need to ensure that it is rectified and improved as soon as possible.

The management of accommodation is not an easy task, especially if it is done in large numbers. SIZA offers a guideline on accommodation in the agricultural context. Members are free to view and download this guide here: