The South African government is set to introduce new employment quotas on foreign workers, as well as ban foreigners from starting small businesses in some sectors.
On Monday, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi introduced the National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP) and Employment Services Amendment Bill for public comment.
The NLMP will introduce quotas on the total number of documented foreign nationals with work visas that can be employed in agriculture, hospitality and tourism, as well as construction, along with other sectors.
The limit on foreign nationals will be set by the minister of labour, and the quotas will differ per occupation, sector or region. Quotas would apply not only to formal employees but, also to anyone paid for any work as well as “platform workers”, such as Uber drivers.
The proposed new legislation will be accompanied by amendments to the Small Business Act, which will limit foreign nationals from establishing small and medium-sized enterprises and trading in some sectors of the economy. This will include a list of sectors where foreign nationals cannot be allocated business visas.
Foreign nationals will include all people who aren’t citizens, permanent residents or refugees
The government said there are four million foreign-born persons in SA, representing 4% of the population and 7% of the labour force.
The department of labour said, “migrants are in particular concentrated in the informal sector – a worrying trend.”
Nxesi said it was critical for government to act and curb the hiring of foreign nationals in the country, as employers were exploiting desperate foreign nationals and “distorting the labour market”.
Nxesi said the Constitution of South Africa does not allow them to ban the employment of foreign nationals but they can limit and control it.
Nxesi said along with the migration labour policy, the strengthening of border management policy will be prioritised