December 2015

What an interesting year it has been. The Economy has had some interesting ups and downs and the political environment remains interesting. For most of us it has been a year of interesting opportunities with many many challenges. We hope that 2016 will be a year that provides more stability.

EMPLOYMENT EQUITY

We are in the process of finalising the last of the Employment Equity Reports and submitting them to the Department of Labour. It is important that those designated employers who have to comply with the Employment Equity Act schedule the quarterly meetings that are a minimum requirement of the Act. We suggest that you get these meeting dates set up for the year and the timing of the meetings should coincide with the reporting that is required. We suggest the following:

MEETING MONTH PURPOSE
Meeting 1 February To review the training report and plan training for 2016
Meeting 2 April To finalise the training submission to SETA
Meeting 3 July To review the employment equity plan
Meeting 4 September To finalise the Employment Equity Reports

To meet the requirements of the Department of Labour we have developed a standardised agenda for the meetings. Please keep in touch with Tessa at the office for information on the Agenda’s

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

A court judgement in August means that we may be entitled to refunds from the SETA’s that we submit reports to. In a judgment in favour of Business Unity SA (Busa) ‚ the Labour Court has set aside certain aspects of the 2012 Seta Grant Regulations‚ declaring them invalid. The case relates to a dispute regarding the new regulations that reduce a mandatory skills grant payable to employers from 50% to 20%.

In the court submission Busa claimed that its attempts to appeal to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and prevent the implementation of these measures were unsuccessful‚ and that Busa had no option but to resort to the courts to review and set aside these regulations.
The Labour Court’s judgment on Friday declared both regulations which were effected in April 2012 to be invalid. The court found that Mr. Nzimande had failed to consult the National Skills Authority as required by law.
The court also ruled that the minister had acted irrationally by reducing the mandatory grant to employers as set out in the Skills Development Act. The minister had exceeded his powers by prescribing that surplus Seta funds be moved to the National Skills Fund.
The court recommended that this ruling with regard to the regulations be suspended until March 31 2016 to allow the Minister to correct the impugned regulations. The minister was ordered to pay all costs of the application.
The Minister has in the meantime published a white paper seeking to review the entire skills development landscape. This was Gazetted on 10 November 2015 and will require significant consultation. The current Skills Legislation requires that SETA’s be relicensed every 5 years. Their current terms expires in 2016 as does the current National Skills Strategy. The proposals put forward in the White Paper would take significant public consultations and it therefore proposes to extend the current SETA licenses for another two years to 2018. There after the SETA’s would become permanent Administrative Boards or SETAB’s responsible to Cluster Management within the Department of Higher Education. It is also proposed to have a representative from Government on the Board (Accounting Authority) of each SETAB
The proposed revision of the Skills Environment is to centralize control of the larger portion of the Skills Levy in the National Skills fund and to use this to fund PIVOTAL or Vocational Training and to encourage an environment where Companies are encouraged to provide work opportunities to graduates. The following funding model has been suggested:

SKILLS LEVY, 1% OF PAYROLL CURRENT LEVY / GRANT SYSTEM PROPOSED LEVY /GRANT SYSTEM
20% Goes to National Skills Fund Goes to National Skills Fund
10% Goes to SETA Administration To go to SETAB administration plus cluster management and shared services (% to be reviewed given changed functions)
20% Goes to Mandatory Grant paid to Employers who submit Training Reports and Plans SETAB Workplace Skills Plan Grant
0,5% SETA Allocation to QCTO National Skills Fund for QCTO
20% of 49,5% (9,9% of total levy paid) SETA Sector Discretionary Grant SETAB Sector Specific Grant
80% of 49,5% (39,6% of the Total levy paid) SETA PIVOTAL grants National Skills Fund (ring-fenced) – utilized for PIVOTAL programmes.
THE FOLLOWING NOTES ARE MADE IN THE PROPOSAL:

Note 1: the levy contribution to the QCTO (0.5%) allocation will henceforward be managed from the National Skills Fund and not from individual SETABS.

Note 2: At this stage it is envisaged that the primary applicants for the ring-fenced PIVOTAL grants will be the SETABs, however the final decision on ‘who gets how much’ will be taken after due consideration is taken of national priorities, informed by the National Development Plan. Under this new arrangement neither sectors nor individual employers will be restricted to claiming grants linked to their levy contribution. If they contribute to national targets they will be entitled to claim more than they contributed.

Note 3: The implications of these changes for government departments will be separately elaborated, however, and in broad terms, the full l percent of departmental training budgets should be subject to rules set nationally i.e. be committed to quality assured training. Note 4: These changes will require legislative changes.

Note 5: The percentages used signal the current and proposed subdivision of the sectoral levy. These may change after consultation and consideration of the advice received.

The interpretation of this prescription will need to be interrogated on a sector-by-sector basis, but no fewer than one senior government official (at the level of Chief Director or above) must be represented on each SETAB Board, drawn from sectorally relevant departments. Where such representation is already in place, the status quo can be confirmed.

The government representatives will have a veto right in relation to the adoption of the sectoral brief to be submitted to the DHET to ensure that the strategic priorities are addressed therein, provided that their respective Directors-General formally mandate such a veto. Where departments fail to execute this function, the plans will be deemed, after a specified period, to be approved and may be submitted without such approval but with an account of steps taken to achieve such approval and reasons for their failure.

It is clear that going forward the DHET wants a much more centralized control of the SETA structures and the money that is being paid over for the Skills Levy (about R12 Billion per year) by Companies and that application for grants will become more onerous. The White paper states:

The broad architecture of the new SETAB Boards will remain unchanged, with one important exception. The role of government departments will be strengthened on SETAB boards for three reasons:

  • Firstly, because government is the largest employer in the country and departments have a key role to play in providing workplace based learning opportunities;
  • Secondly, because the role of government, from the perspective of the National Development Plan (i.e. the role of government as the mouthpiece of the ‘developmental state’), is particularly important when sectoral briefs are developed. It is critical that the sectoral strategic plans of the different sectoral departments inform the sectoral briefs and priorities set; and
  • Thirdly, because the spending of government’s training funds should be steered to support national and sectoral priorities.

The strengthened role of government departments in SETABs comes with changes in the roles to be played by these departments – in particular it is proposed that they prepare training plans in line with methodologies and templates determined centrally (so that the NSF can ‘recognize’ their applications in terms of its standard funding categories) and secondly that their committed one percent of personnel budget dedicated to training should focus primarily (approximately 80 percent) on quality assured training. All time-based exposure programmes that are not quality assured, should be funded from other funding sources, or, in the case of the private sector, should be incentivized through tax incentives and broad-based black economic empowerment {BBBEE) points.
The paper is very comprehensive and requires much analysis, but it will most probably increase the bureaucracy and make it difficult for private businesses to access the PIVOTAL skills grants.
We await the consultations with interest.

 

DOMESTIC WORKERS

It is the time of the year when the Minister of Labour gazettes the new minimum salaries for Domestic Workers. According to the Department of Statistics CPI was set at 5,5%, and the determination is CPI +2,5%. This is was the determination that was gazetted last year.:

R 11,44 per hour – an increase of 8,02% over last year
R 514,82 per week – an increase of 8% over last year
R2 230,70 per month – an increase of 8% over last year.

The Gazette states that wages in Area A (Urban Areas) will be subjected to a CPI plus 2.5% increase for the period 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2016. The CPI***(for the lowest quintile) six weeks prior to 1 December 2015 is 5.5%. This means that wages for this period was calculated as follows: CPI plus 2.5% for Area A = 5.5% + 2.5% =8%.

We therefore have to give all domestic workers an increase of 8% this year.

We wish you a happy holiday and safe travelling if you are going away. We hope that 2016 will be a prosperous and happy year for everyone.

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