If you are a foreign national wanting to live and work in South Africa, you might be wondering how the Black Economic Empowerment Act affects you.
Let’s first look at what Black Economic Empowerment is and how it came about.
Black Economic Empowerment, also known as BEE, is an initiative launched in South Africa to ensure equal employment opportunities for people of all colours in the workplace. In 2006 the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) was put in place, which provides a code for companies to follow in order to be BEE compliant.
These BBBEE Codes have been especially designed so that businesses can benefit, whilst simultaneously opening the economy to everyone. Companies are required to apply these codes in order to conduct business in South Africa, and they are fined if they are not BEE compliant.
The BEE scorecard measures companies according to the BBBEE codes to encourage all businesses in South Africa to implement proper BEE initiatives through the issuing of licences, concessions, sale of assets, and preferential procurement.
How will the Black Economic Empowerment act affect foreign nationals intending to work in South Africa?
The Black Economic Empowerment policy will have no effect on those who are transferred to South Africa from an overseas company by means of an intra-company transfer permit. If you are a foreign national, however, looking for work in South Africa, BEE might limit your options. Don’t be alarmed: this Black Economic Empowerment policy does not mean that a person who was not previously disadvantaged will not be hired; it just means that everyone has an equal opportunity to find work in South Africa.
The Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment code acts as an incentive for companies to consider individuals from all cultures. BEE ensures that employers take into account that some disadvantaged individuals may not have had the same opportunities as others, and that these individuals should not be penalised.
If the candidate has the right skills, especially scarce or exceptional skills, BEE will not be used to negate them. A scarce skill may be a foreign language. In South Africa, skills in foreign languages like German, French, Italian, Spanish or Scandinavian languages are not widely available. The skills are sought after, which means that companies need foreign nationals from all over the world.
Many of these foreign language positions are in, but not limited to, call centres. These jobs are in business process outsourcing companies that are often based in Cape Town and offer great basic salaries. They also very often provide employees with a work permit, daily lunch, medical aid, and sometimes even massages. These call centre positions are a great way of getting a foot in the doors of workplaces in South Africa, especially when a work visa is provided.
South Africa has a unique history and is home to a variety of interesting cultures. Although there are laws that may affect foreign nationals coming to South Africa for an overseas work experience, there are a variety of routes a foreigner can take to become part of culturally diverse work teams in South Africa.
Browse our job section for current jobs in South Africa.