The Employment Services Act is an ambitious new piece of employment legislation that came into operation on 9 August 2015. It regulates private recruitment services, makes provision for public recruitment services, promotes employment for persons with disabilities, and drives productivity in the workplace through the creation of a new state owned entity, Productivity South Africa. The commencement of the Act constitutes the last phase of the recent suite of major amendments to employment legislation.
The Act expands on and replaces the provisions in the regulations to the Skills Development Act regulating services provided to job seekers by so called “private employment agencies”, which includes the recruitment industry and labour brokers. Similar to the Skills Development Act, the Act makes provision for the registration of private employment agencies. Given that the criteria for registration have not been prescribed by the Minister of Labour yet, this portion of the Act is not currently in operation. The regulation of private employment agencies will be overseen by the Employment Services Board, constituted in equal parts out of representatives of state, business and labour, but not yet appointed.
The Act further places a duty on the Department of Labour to establish public employment services. These will effectively be state run recruitment agencies, funded in part by the registration fees of private employment agencies. Controversially, the Minister of Labour may make regulations requiring employers to notify the department of vacancies and to report on the placement of candidates put forward by the public employment services. No such regulations have yet been promulgated.
Productivity South Africa is tasked with promoting and developing a culture of productivity in the workplace and will be guided by a board constituting an equal amount of representatives from state, business and labour.
Finally, the Act establishes Supported Employment Enterprises as a national government component in terms of the Public Service Act, 1994, aimed at promoting work and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.