Easing on dismissal policy needed in S.Africa's labour sector

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South African legislation makes it very difficult to dismiss in the labour market, a culture of employment that needs to change.

“You can employ on a higher level if it’s easy to dismiss. South African employers need to build in the risk of eventual, possible dismissal the day you employ. When you employ unskilled workers you must have the ability to dismiss more easily,” Gerhard Papenfus, the CEO of the National Employers Association of South Africa, told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.

The country’s labour market has been plagued by strikes in the mining sector, wage disputes and an insipid unemployment rate in recent times. Some of these issues need to be broken down and analysed individually to better understand the core concerns behind them.

“This whole debate on minimum wages, this is something that we’ll seriously have to look at. You cannot put minimum wages and so-called decent wages and unskilled workers and unemployment in the same basket. We’ll have to relax these things for employers to employ on lower wages,” added Papenfus.

South Africa’s first quarter unemployment stood at 25.2 per cent and while this is a pressing issue, in certain cases there needs to be substantial relaxation on protection against dismissal.

“Employers can take a substantial amount of regulation if it’s very clear and the rules are very simple. That doesn’t mean dismissal at will without any compensation, [it means] providing employers with flexibility in getting workers in and out without violating the basic social needs of workers,” said Chris Todd from leading corporate and commercial law firm Bowman Gilfillan.

“We need to be a little bit more radical in what we’re prepared to do to our existing regime to make it and to me the key words are simpler and more flexible.”