Cape Town is one of Africa’s leading employment destinations.

South Africa’s labour market has completely transformed since 1994, with an emphasis being placed on strategies that eliminate the prevalent labour inequalities of the past. This means improving the general working conditions for all South Africans and foreign workers. By extension of this principle, all legislative acts and employment policies in South Africa aim to:

  • Ensure decent working conditions for all workers
  • Facilitate legal and decent work for all workers
  • Protect the employment relationship
  • Avoid exploitation of workers across all industries
  • Regulate contract work, subcontracting and outsourcing
  • Address the problem of labour broking and prohibit abusive practices
  • Facilitate unionisation and protection of workers’ rights
  • Ensure the right to permanent employment for affected workers

It’s these governing principles that make Cape Town one of South Africa’s most attractive locations for many businesses and enterprises, both local and foreign. In fact, many people throughout Africa see cities like Cape Town as havens that offer a wealth of socio-economic opportunities. As a result, the Mother City has become home to many inter-regional and inter-continental workers.

With this increase in foreign interest there are a number of notable legislations, which are managed by the Cape Town Department of Labour, that govern this landscape within the Western Cape. These employment equity policies and procedures ensure the ongoing good working conditions for local and international employees alike. After all, foreign workers are entitled to the same rights as South Africans.

The Labour Relations Act (LRA)

The LRA gives effect to the entitlement of every employee/worker in South Africa to fair labour practices. It applies to all employers, workers, trade unions and employers’ organisations. It does not apply to the National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, or the South African Secret Service. This is an act that aims to promote economic development, social justice, labour peace and democracy in the workplace by:

  • regulating the organisational rights of trade unions
  • facilitating collective bargaining at the workplace and at sectoral level
  • dealing with strikes, lockouts, forums and alternative dispute resolutions

The LRA also established the CCMA, Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court as superior courts, with exclusive jurisdiction to decide matters arising from the legislation.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA)

The BCEA sets out the basic conditions of work for all workers in South Africa and spells out workers’ and employers’ rights regarding, among others: leave, family responsibility, working hours and pay. South African immigration legislation stipulates that foreign workers must be remunerated and employed fairly. This Act is the yardstick against which this is measured and it aims to outline and govern all basic conditions of employment in South Africa, including:

  • Working hours
  • Overtime (and associated pay)
  • Meal breaks and rest periods
  • Sunday work
  • Night work
  • Public Holidays
  • Leave (including annual, sick, maternity and family responsibility)

The Act does not, however, apply to members of the National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Service and unpaid volunteers working for charities.

The Employment Equity Act (EEA)

The EEA promotes fair employment practices, outlaws unfair discrimination and regulates affirmative action policies so that South African workplaces become more diverse and efficient. This ensures that legislation promotes equity and that all employees receive equal opportunities while being treated fairly by all employers. Any unfair treatment and forms of discrimination are not tolerated under this law in Cape Town or South Africa in general.

The Skills Development Act (SDA)

The SDA aims to provide an institutional framework for developing and improving the skills of the South African workforce. This is the Act that created the National Skills Authority (NSA) and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). In line with the overall government objectives set out above, the purpose of the SDA is to:

  • use the workplace as an active learning environment that is able to provide employees with the opportunities to acquire new skills
  • encourage workers to participate in learning programmes
  • improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility
  • increase the levels of investment in education and training in the labour market and to increase the return on that investment
  • improve the employment prospects of persons previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination and to redress those disadvantages through training and education

The Mother City Labour Environment

All of Cape Town’s legislation is supported by codes of good practice, issued by South Africa’s Department of Labour. Occupational health and workplace safety are also closely regulated by both local and international bodies. Contact us today for detailed information about how to set up your business to be in line with employment policies in Cape Town. Our business hub is standing by to assist with any of your queries!

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