Natashia Barnabas is an industrial relations manager at Workforce Staffing.
Natashia Barnabas is an industrial relations manager at Workforce Staffing.

TES becomes driving force for South Africa’s gig economy

By Opinion Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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By: Natashia Barnabas

Temporary Employment Services (Tes) have been used mainly in First-World economies whereby organisations have the flexibility to procure required skills part-time (ad-hoc) or fixed term (temporary).

The services are usually contracted in order to complete a project, cater for a business project (fixed duration), provide additional staffing due to fluctuations in volume of work, as well as cater for seasonal work. Adopting a gig economy within South Africa could be the turning point in the lowering of the unemployment rate and increasing the country’s gross domestic product

In January this year, the US saw temporary employment rise by 81 000 jobs which amassed a total of 83.5 percent of new jobs just for the month. The latest unemployment rate for South Africa has revealed an increase of 32.5 percent with 7.2 million people jobless.

However, to bolster a gig economy in South Africa, companies require a constant supply of skilled and unskilled staff with the ability to manage the workforce. This is where a Tes provider can assist.

Gig economy overview

By definition, a gig economy refers to a labour market whereby short-term or freelance work is preferred over that of permanent jobs. A gig refers to each task or project that is worked on by an individual. It provides flexibility to those who choose this employment option. From an employee perspective, individuals can focus on more meaningful tasks while being able to meet the demands of personal life.

Locally, we will benefit from a gig economy as individuals are provided an opportunity to earn an income, as permanent jobs remain scarce. This flexible approach will decrease unemployment rates as individuals have the opportunity to participate in temporary work rather than remain static and unemployed.

Temporary work also provides individuals with vital job experience that can be used in future endeavours. This can be useful to younger generations in terms of skills development, skills specialisation and being able to become multiskilled, which makes them more attractive in the job market.

The need for skills has been further exacerbated by the youth’s inability to afford tertiary education. Ultimately, employees and companies will benefit, as employees become multiskilled and negotiate their own terms and conditions with the company, and companies will obtain the skills they require while ensuring cost effectiveness.

Compliance all-round is an issue that many companies struggle with. However, Tes providers manage the workforce, while ensuring compliance on various levels within the business, which allow organisations to focus on their core business.

Policy adjustments for businesses and legislation

The new mindset of temporary employment has not had a strong following in South Africa due to traditional and rigid business structures.

In order to bolster the gig economy, businesses would have to change company policy and enlist the services of a third-party to ensure the amendments are implemented correctly. Legislation would need to be drafted to cover the areas that fall in-between an employee and independent contractor. With various compliance requirements for businesses, such as adhering to relevant labour laws such as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.

It is also important to note that independent contractors are generally excluded from the legislation. As such, the matter would need to be judged case by case. The gig economy option provides many more pros than it does cons. This leaves a requirement for a partner that can assist with drafting and implementation of policy changes and help the organisation leveraging the gig economy to their full potential, while ensuring the organisation is legally compliant.

Tes providers are the driving force

In terms of legal matters, with specialists in all fields of business, whether it be commercial, legal, industrial relations, sales, operations or payroll, a Tes provider will ensure that the business is maintaining its compliance standards with the necessary legislation.

An experienced and well-established Tes provider with the right expertise and skills in staffing solutions and workforce management, will be able to provide on-demand staff for fluctuating business requirements. This, in addition the training of staff and managing the workforce is to ensure the desired productivity levels are achieved.

Tes providers also need to take into consideration the operations of the organisation and, accordingly, ensure the health and safety of all parties. Aligning with the right provider with the same values, vision and direction, is important to ensure a gig-economy approach is adopted easily while meeting all necessary legal and business requirements.

The gig economy can be the recovery framework for South Africa to reduce the unemployment rate that Covid-19 brought about. Candidates who have experienced job losses, have an opportunity to earn an income again by engaging in temporary work on specific projects. By engaging with a Tes provider that has clients (in retail, construction, transport, logistics, manufacturing, e-commerce, warehousing and so on.) which require a workforce for fixed term periods.

The employee may make the necessary job applications with Tes, who will then start the recruitment process with the prospective employee. The employee will then be matched to any requests from clients for an employee with that particular skill set or interest.

Tes providers are also the vehicle to supply such staff to their clients, as well as ensure that staff are adequately trained. They have an extensive CV data base filled with unskilled employees, as well as skilled employees in various levels and occupations. They can also ensure criminal and other background checks are also done during the recruitment process, before an employee is placed on site. Management of employees are executed by the Tes provider, thereby allowing the organisation to focus on growing its core business.

Natashia Barnabas is an industrial relations manager at Workforce Staffing.

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