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Do foreign nationals have the same rights and obligations as South African employees?

by , 19 March 2014
Section 1 of the Immigration Act defines foreign nationals as people who aren't citizens of the Republic of South Africa. You can employ a foreign national if he's in the Republic of South Africa legally and has a valid permit from the Department of Home Affairs permitting him to work for you in particular or permitting him to work in South Africa generally. If you're not sure about whether or not South African employment laws also apply to foreign nationals, here's the answer...

What does labour law say about foreign nationals and their rights and obligations?

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that employment laws apply to both foreign nationals and South Africans employed at your workplace.

This includes:

  • The Labour Relations Act (LRA)
  • The Basic Employment of Conditions Act (BCEA)
  • The Employment Equity Act (EEA)
  • The Skills Development Act (SDA)
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
  • The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA)

Warning! Don't distinguish between foreign and local employees in terms and conditions of employment and other benefits especially in the following three cases...



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Treat foreign and local employees the same when it comes to:

#1: Terms and conditions of employment: This includes: Remuneration, annual leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave, maternity leave, hours of work, overtime and overtime pay, payment on public holidays or for work performed on public holidays and payment for work performed on a Sunday.

#2: Employee benefits: These include medical aid, retirement benefits and service awards.

#3: Rules, regulations and policies and procedures: You must apply the same rules, regulations and policies and procedures to foreign nationals as you would to your local employees.

These would include grievance and disciplinary procedures, performance management policies and harassment policies.

Knowing how you must treat employees who are foreign nationals at your workplace will help ensure you don't discriminate against them based on their national or ethnic origin.

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