The Employment Services Act, No 4 of 2004 (ESA) came into effect on 9 August 2015. The Government Gazette dealing with the commencement of the Act specifically excludes s13 from coming into operation. This section deals with the registration of private employment agencies.

The ESA repeals the Employment Services provisions contained in the Skills Development Act, No 97 of 1998 (SDA). The purpose of ESA is to establish productivity within South Africa, decrease levels of unemployment, and provide for the training of unskilled workers.

While ESA has various mechanisms for improving employment levels in the country and training the workforce, only time will tell if these mechanisms will be successful. We expect regulations to be issued in the near future to provide practice guidelines for the implementation of the ESA.

One of the more publicised provisions of ESA is that it provides for the registration of private employment agencies, which includes recruitment agencies and temporary employment services, more commonly known as labour brokers. As mentioned above though, the provisions relating to this have not yet come into effect.

ESA further provides for the creation of a Public Employment Service, which will be established and managed by the state. The rationale behind the creation of the Public Employment Service is to provide state assistance to unemployed job seekers.

The Public Employment Service will register job seekers and placement opportunities. The aim is then to match job seekers with services and placement opportunities. The Public Employment Service will also provide training for unskilled job seekers and give the unemployed access to career information. Employers in certain industries may be required to register vacancies and specific categories of work with the Public Employment Service. Employers may also be required to interview individuals recommended by the Public Employment Service and pay license fees to assist in funding the Public Employment Service.

ESA is a genuine attempt by the legislature to address unemployment levels. Whether these honourable intentions will prove successful is, as always, dependent on its implementation.