SA HR news roundup: Joblessness close to 50 percent, call for vaccine mandates

BankservAfrica index shows steep decline in take-home pay.

Business for South Africa calls for rapid decisions on vaccine mandates and restricted access as the fourth wave of Covid-19 begins. Trade union launches a whistle-blower portal focusing on corruption at Eskom and other SOEs.
Meanwhile, the latest unemployment data shows that 46.6 percent of the labour force was without work in the third quarter, under the expanded definition of unemployment, and the steepest decline in monthly take-home pay since 2019.

B4SA calls for vaccine mandates
Business for South Africa (B4SA) has called for restricted access to public indoor areas that are not required for emergency use, following the identification of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, which is currently driving the fourth wave of the pandemic.

B4SA and a group of 22 scientists and experts said that public spaces like hospitals, grocery stores, travel in buses, certain government services, large-scale events, taxis and aeroplanes, indoor establishments such as restaurants and taverns, and places of worship should be subject to vaccine mandates or only be open to people who are vaccinated.

B4SA is also calling on all employers to ensure safe working environments for their employees and customers, which in many instances should include restricting access to vaccinated individuals and implementing vaccine mandates wherever possible.

Trade union launches whistle-blower portal
Trade union Solidarity has launched a new protected whistle-blower portal to empower employees to expose corruption at Eskom and other state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

According to the trade union, the platform has a specific focus on Eskom, but can also be used to report corruption at any SOE and private enterprises.

New record unemployment rate
The latest data shows that the country has hit a new record unemployment high of 34.9 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

Statistics South Africa said the number of unemployed totalled 7.643-million people in the three months to the end of September, compared with 7.826-million people, in the previous three months.

According to an expanded definition of unemployment that includes those discouraged from seeking work, 46.6 percent of the labour force was without work in the third quarter, from 44.4 percent in the second quarter.

Steep decline in take-home pay
BankservAfrica’s latest Take-home Pay Index (BTPI) shows the steepest monthly decline of take-home pay in the private sector since September 2019. The index also reflected little change in the typical salary of formal sector workers in the last two years.

Shergeran Naidoo, BankservAfrica’s head of Stakeholder Engagements, said, “The real take-home pay declined by 3.1 percent on a year-on-year basis in October 2021 compared to the 4.1 percent growth in September 2021.”

According to the data, take-home pay has stayed between R12,000 and R13,150 over the last 25 months, indicating salaries in the formal sector have not changed drastically over the years. In the last four months, the typical pay has remained below R11,000.

This trend suggests South Africa has lost many high salary jobs and that salaries for high earners in the civil service or private sector industries have not adjusted for the inflation increases.