Chameleon workers – how they can help your business flourish

As businesses are being forced to change, become more agile and disruptive to remain competitive, the pressure on employees to adapt is increasing.
The rapid way in which technology has changed and the inability, as well as resistance from employees to keep up, is leaving organisations in a digital wasteland.

This is costing them profits, market share and is leaving them battling to survive.

According to the 2016 Accenture Technology Vision Survey, a new type of worker has entered the marketplace. This new type of worker, the chameleon, can adapt to change, learn new skills in a short space of time and seamlessly move from assignment to assignment. They are contributing to a new trend that Accenture refers to as the ‘liquid workforce’.

In the same study, in which 3 100 executives were interviewed, 80% said that within the next three years, the ‘chameleon worker’ will be their most valued workers. It’s their proficiency with digital technology and their ability to embrace change that makes these new employees a valued asset.

Additional advantages of this workforce include their willingness to work as part of a team, openness to new training and a constantly evolving skill set.

However, to attract, and more importantly, retain these new agile workers, businesses need to create an environment in which they can flourish.

The first and most important step is to move away from rigid business structures and create an environment where the chameleon workforce can achieve the change that they were brought in for. Human Resources departments will need to play a part in this change by moving away from people management and rather embracing the concept of ‘orchestrating talent’ to optimise an organisation’s output.

The largest employee input of 2015 is the introduction of millennials. These digital natives are increasingly becoming the largest sector of the workforce and businesses need to change to be able to engage with them differently.

In addition, rather than seeing themselves merely as ‘employees’ in the traditional sense, these employees see themselves as ‘customers’ of a business – and expect the management style and internal technology processes to reflect this. Systems such as HR and Payroll solutions, as well as business management solutions, need to be intuitive and offer the same user experience that employees get from the platforms they use in their personal lives.

‘Chameleons’ also have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Skills development is of the utmost importance to them. They look for employers who provide consistent online learning experiences, access to courses and information that can help them rapidly learn new skills.

Heidi Duvenage is the Head: Sage Talent Solutions.

Retirement planning: The who, what, when and how

When you are young, you may be tempted to put retirement savings on the back burner on the assumption that you still have many decades to save before you retire.
There is just one big problem with this rationale – you are working against your greatest investment growth asset: time. When it comes to saving for your financial future, it really is a case of the sooner you start, the more room you give yourself to achieve your retirement goals, and the less pressure you will feel as you get older.

Starting to save from your first day of work teaches you to be consistent when saving for retirement. If you start by putting away R500 per month at your first job, and remember to increase your contribution as your salary grows, saving will be instilled as a healthy habit that will serve you well in later years.

You should strive to save between 10% and 15% of your salary. This may sound daunting but if you are fortunate enough to have an employer who contributes, each of you need only contribute 5%.

All too frequently though, young people starting their first job have no idea what their retirement saving goals should be – or how to achieve them. “Where do I start?” is a common question. Fiirst-time salary earners should ask themselves the following five questions:

Should I choose a conservative or high-risk investment?

In theory, the higher the risk, the more return you should receive on your investment. Conversely, the lower the risk, the lower your return. The risk you choose for your investment is therefore fundamental to the returns you achieve over the years. No successful savings plan can be discussed without mention of the risk involved.

Investing conservatively means protecting your nest egg against the chance of any loss, but it also means ensuring that none of the potential losses will be overwhelming. The downside is potentially losing large interest gains if the investment is too conservative. When you are young, you can afford to take bigger risks, as the luxury of time gives you more room for error.

Two main factors should be taken into account when considering your risk tolerance: the time horizon and the funds available. When you start saving towards financial stability too late, investing your money in higher-risk stocks is not the best strategy, as you have less time to overcome volatility or price fluctuations. With more time, investors have more room to recoup potential losses and are consequently more tolerant of higher risk – which means more returns.

Is an RA, pension fund or provident fund right for me?

To make this important decision, it’s critical to understand the differences between the various types of funds. Before the T-Day legislation proposals, the big difference between pension funds and provident funds was that a provident fund allowed you to withdraw your full benefit when you retire, while with a pension fund, you needed to buy an annuity (a monthly income). The new legislation stipulates that all pensioners are now required to buy an annuity to ensure that their funds last longer and can be sustained over the long term.

Another point to remember is that only an employer can claim a tax benefit from provident fund contributions, while with a pension fund, both the employer (up to 20%) and the employee (up to 7.5%) can claim their contributions for tax purposes. Provident funds are therefore more suited to lower income earners who don’t benefit from the tax deduction.

A retirement annuity (RA) is a good option when your employer doesn’t make contributions to your retirement or if you want to save more for your retirement. With this plan you are able to set the date that your annuity will mature (pay out), which in most cases is between 55 and 70 years.

Who should manage my money?

For young savers who have a keen interest in investments, there are three questions you need to answer before consulting a financial adviser:
• Do you have a solid knowledge of investments?
• Do you enjoy reading up on investments and doing research?
• Do you have the investment expertise and knowledge when it comes to retirement planning (and do you have time to monitor and evaluate the options available in order to make necessary changes to your portfolio)?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you can seek expert advice from an adviser to get started. It is always advisable to start with a financial adviser to learn best practice before taking the plunge on your own.

What is the best way of finding an adviser to suit your individual needs? Start by speaking to family members or friends whose finances are being managed successfully – they should be able to recommend someone suitable. Advisers are there to help you make informed financial decisions. You should meet with your adviser at least once or twice a year to review your financial portfolio and ensure your retirement savings plan is still on track.

When should I consider increasing my contributions?

It is typical to contribute a small percentage of your salary to your retirement savings when you are young and increase this amount as your salary grows. A retirement calculator will help you see how your contributions need to grow to keep ahead of inflation.

Remember that if you are young and can’t afford large contributions, consider how the power of compound interest will influence your savings or nest egg. If you save R1000 per month from the age of 20 to 30, and then leave the investment to grow at an annual rate of 12% until you turn 60, your investment would have grown to over R6.7 million. This amount is much higher than the R3.1 million you would have if you saved R1000 from the age of 30 to 60. This example clearly illustrates the power of compound interest.

How much should I pay my adviser?

You should never pay your adviser more than 3% of annual value of the assets under management, and should negotiate an acceptable fee of 1.5%. Since the amount deducted for adviser fees will impact your eventual retirement package, it is imperative to research and understand what fees are being charged for what services.

In conclusion, you need to make it a habit to educate yourself on all aspects of financial decision-making, as this knowledge will serve you in good stead throughout your life.

Understanding the impact of your decisions will help you to plan for a more secure financial future. From a retirement planning perspective, saving is all about generating an income for yourself in your later years. It is never too late, but leaving retirement saving to later in life can prove to be a costly error – which can easily be avoided through entrenching healthy savings habits from an early age.

Mayuri Reddy is the market strategist at Sanlam Employee Benefits.

Teenage career choice not a lifelong ball-and-chain

Number-crunchers estimate that a person will change careers about five to seven times during their lifetime. Often, these changes will occur within the same discipline, meaning the issues that forced a person to re-assess their life path may simply transfer to the next phase.
That’s why those who want to change careers should not only consider an upwards or sideways move, but possibly also entering a new field entirely.

Decisions on career choices are made as far back as our Grade 9 year at the age of about 15, when matric subjects are selected with the aim of gaining entry into the qualification that will prepare you for your career.

However at this young age, decisions are often based on influences from parents and peers, and with little insight into the actual rewards and demands of a specific career. After graduation and a year or five in the workplace, it is therefore not uncommon for people to find that their chosen field is not the one they want to pursue for the rest of their lives.

This realisation will manifest as a loss of passion, days turning into constant drudgery, difficulty getting out of bed and participating fully at work and possibly even depression.

But a choice made in one’s teenage years need not impact the rest of one’s life.

It is never too late to make a switch, but deciding to go from teacher to IT technician, or accountant to art director is a major move, which should not be made lightly.

Before leaping into the great unknown, people should watch out for the following pitfalls:

1. Don’t switch careers without a solid plan.
2. Don’t change careers because you “hate” your job. Perhaps it’s the environment and the people at work that you can’t stand, or it could be that you’re feeling bored. Figure out why exactly you want to make a change.
3. Don’t change careers based solely on financial matters or perceived status.
4. Don’t make a change because of pressure from family and friends.
5. Do consider all the possibilities and requirements to make the change.
6. Understand that you’ll probably need to spend money and time gaining the necessary qualifications and experience.
7. Make sure you can survive on the money you’ll earn as an entry-level employee in the new career.

Having said that, taking the plunge for the right reasons may have a dramatically positive impact on one’s life, and examples abound of people who have started from scratch in a new career and have gone on to great heights of success.

After having made the big decision, the following process is advised:

1. Accept that your first choice of career is coming to an end, and give yourself a timeline to switch disciplines. Don’t keep vacillating – commit to the new challenge with full focus and energy.

2. Identify where you’d like to be in five years and what you’d like to do. Do your research. This may be reading up on your preferred career choice, taking leave and job shadowing for a few days, and finding out what your options are at various public or private institutions’ careers centres.

3. Determine what mode of studying you are able to commit to in order to qualify in your new field. There are various options available. You could attend full time classes on a campus, part-time classes offered in the evenings, or distance/online study. For working adults, especially those with families, the part-time or distance options may be most suitable, even if it means taking longer to complete a qualification.

While studying for a new qualification, people should already start networking and immersing themselves in their new field, so that they are ready to hit the ground running after graduation.

Additionally, upon graduation, CVs should be given a proper overhaul and not just recycled from the previous career.

CVs should be reworked to emphasise key skills, experience and qualifications you have which meet your new career objectives.

Nola Payne is the Head of Faculty: Information and Communication Technology at The Independent Institute of Education.

Fight financial fraud in your business

Financial fraud is still a huge threat to both enterprises and Small & Medium Businesses – even though there have been big advancements in technology such as 3D secure authentication and more robust payment solutions.
Statistics show that two-thirds of business owners are concerned about financial fraud, but despite this, many customers still use public Wi-Fi to log onto websites and accounts to shop or bank online.

This is just one example of how business owners unwittingly put their information at risk.

Businesses need to change the way they track the movement of money, and a critical part of this is ensuring that they are aware of how to avoid banking fraud.

Here are some ways that Small & Medium Business owners can avoid the fraud trap:

1. To avoid falling victim to the fraudulent change of bank account details; maintain a good relationship with existing suppliers and know your contacts so that you are able to liaise with them when required.

2. Educate your team about scams such as the deposit and refund scams in order to avoid them.

3. Vary your passwords for your different banking sites.

4. Do not keep your passwords and/or pins saved on your mobile device.

5. Place restrictions on the amount of information an employee has access to.

6. Never disclose personal details, such as your password, on email or over the phone unless, of course, it is one you have agreed with your bank for telephone banking.

7. Regularly check your bank account and statements for suspicious transactions. If you spot something unfamiliar, report it to your bank or card provider as soon as you can.

While technology can assist in reducing fraud, it won’t help if you don’t get the basics right. Make sure that everyone in your business is aware of these simple measures and keep up to date with the latest trends in cybercrime.

Donovan Marais is the Channel Manager at Sage Pay.

Conflict in the workplace

Workplace mediation offers significant benefits to employers and employees. It has the potential to facilitate fast, innovative, mutually beneficial, solutions to employment disputes.
When a dispute is mediated soon after it arises the chances of a satisfactory resolution are optimised because the parties’ positions are usually still fluid and their differences have not had a chance to fester and deepen.

Of course, the Labour Relations Act provides for a speedy process of dispute resolution, which includes a conciliation phase, through the CCMA and the Bargaining Councils in the various sectors. However, these processes only kick in after the internal disciplinary process has run its course or the grievance has been lodged and there has been no satisfactory outcome. Workplace mediation is aimed at assisting parties to resolve workplace problems at an even earlier stage, prior to disciplinary action being taken or grievances being lodged.

The CCMA is leading the way in this area – as part of its strategic imperative to advance good practice at work and to transform workplace relations. It is running a six month pilot project in the Cape Fruit Industry (March 2016-August 2016) to explore the potential in this area.

At the 29th Annual Labour Law Conference (ALLC), taking place for the first time at Emperors Palace from 24 to 25 August 2016, the CCMA will address the topic of workplace mediation, as well as other strategies to encourage job retention and workplace harmony in these difficult economic times.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela will tackle the topic of job creation and corruption in a plenary session. Prof Paul Benjamin and Mr Thobile Lambate, the Director-General of the Department of Labour, will speak on the impact of the 2014 amendments to the Labour Relations Act on job creation. Of course, sometimes job retention is simply not possible – and there will be a panel presentation on developments in the field of retrenchment law as well.

Nicci Whitear-Nel (BA LLB) is the Senior Lecturer at School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Engaged Millennials make an impact on society

In a bid to continue celebrating and recognising the efforts of young people doing great things post 1976, South African Millennials have the potential to create remarkable cultural and technological impact on society and the business world.
Known today as The New Boom, Echo Boomers and Millennials – it is no surprise that organisations are realising the importance of understanding how to engage Millennials in the workplace. Millennials are fast becoming the most productive generation with the right combination of management and motivation in the workplace.

The interest in the Millennial generation is largely due to the immediate and long term effects on society, resulting in a massive shift in opinion on social issues over the past decade; this generation is racially diverse, unattached to politics or religion and linked to social media communities – the distinct generational identity is evident in the way they interact with peers. Organisations are realising that the divide between Millennial generation and non-Millennial is growing rapidly, this disconnect between the two generations impacts on employee engagement, retention levels and ultimately, the bottom line.

It is important to understand the significant differences between the two generations in the workplace, engaging employees who are part of the Millennial generation can lead to increased effectiveness in supervising and mentoring, which in turn can lead to workplace satisfaction, retention, motivation and greater productivity. It is imperative that multigenerational teams have informed management strategies to ensure the diverse team performs optimally.

In an effort to bridge the generational divide, organisations can reduce the divide between the two generations by taking the following approaches to ensure employee engagement from Millennial and non–Millennials.

• Establishing an environment characterised by effective employer-employee communication;
• Building a system of incentives, employee perks, awards, and recognition;
• Ensuring value in employee compensation and benefits packages;
• Developing challenges and an interesting slate of diverse tasks for team members;
• Building an environment in which there are friendly interactions among team members; and
• Providing training and development.

Millennial employees need more guidance than those who have been with an organisation for many years. While they are optimistic and excited to advance within the company, they are unsure of their roles and responsibilities. To succeed, they need feedback to understand what they are doing right and encouragement to help them improve. Managers can turn that initial level of enthusiasm into full engagement from a multigenerational team to ensure effective workplace environments typified by effective communication, value recognition and motivation.

Neville De Lucia is the Director at Dale Carnegie Training, Gauteng.

What present-day CEOs can learn from those who will most likely succeed them

Next generation leaders are more optimistic than CEOs about economic growth, but more pessimistic about cybersecurity, education and trust in business.
These are the key findings from a new report by PwC in collaboration with AIESEC.

The research compares the results from PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey with the views of Young AIESEC leaders and examines where they agree and disagree, what the implications are for companies looking to attract the best young talent and what today’s CEOs can learn from those who will most likely succeed them. The respondents were all under the age of 30, came from over 100 countries, and were broadly balanced between male and female.

The top global figures next generation leaders considered to have had the greatest impact on the world in the past 50 years were: Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Barak Obama, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk. They also named Justin Trudeau, Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King Jr and Muhammad Yunus in the top 10.

Tomorrow’s leaders optimists as well as realists

One of the most eye catching findings from the AIESEC results is the degree of confidence these young leaders have. For instance, 60% believe economic growth will improve over the next 12 months compared to only 27% of CEOs. This might be the optimism of youth, but could also reflect a more profound insight into trends like the digital revolution, where the younger generation sees opportunity, and the previous ones cost and risk.

Although tomorrow’s leaders are optimistic about the future they are also realists. They look for opportunity, but are not naïve about risk. They care about wider social and environmental issues, and understand how stakeholder expectations are changing. While pay and incentives are important, they want to work for companies that have similar values to their own and place a lot of emphasis on the nature of their work.

Ana Saldarriaga, President of AISEC International 2015-2016, comments: “AIESEC leaders and generally young people today – are very purpose-driven. This is further underlined through the findings of AISEC’s global YouthSpeak Survey. Featuring more than 200.000 responses to date, the survey outlines the three motivations of youth globally: family, purpose in life and love. Both a strong sense of purpose and value are something youth requires in a workplace and looks for in their employers. I believe more businesses are beginning to understand this and are taking bold steps in putting their purpose into practice.”

While they are more optimistic than CEOs in many respects, AIESEC respondents also believe that organisations should be more concerned about some of the threats they face than CEOs typically are.

• 86% of AIESEC respondents say companies should be worried about cybercrime, while only 61% of CEOs are concerned about this
• 85% see a threat in shifts in consumer behavior, as against 60% of CEOs
• 83% cite a lack of public trust in business, compared to 55% of CEOs

There’s also a clear difference in how the two groups perceive risk. Reflecting the struggle many business leaders face in shifting from a short term to long term outlook, CEOs ranked their top three concerns as over-regulation, geopolitical uncertainty, and exchange rate volatility. By contrast, AIESEC respondents took a more long term view, believing CEOs should be more concerned about longer term issues of social instability, climate change and environmental damage, and unemployment.

Young leaders challenge CEOs to put their business purpose into practice

The survey finds that both generations are agreeing that business success in the 21st century will be defined by more than just financial profit. However AIESEC respondents believe businesses today are still mainly focused on shareholder value, despite CEOs progress and future aspirations to connect more strongly with wider stakeholders.

Underlining this, there are interesting differences too, in how the two prioritise stakeholder groups. Both agree that customers and clients have the biggest influence on corporate strategy, and that governments and regulators are important. However the media are seen as much more significant by AIESEC leaders (74%) compared to CEOs (25%), and there is a similar pattern with local communities (52% versus 27%), the general public (50% versus 30%), and NGOs (40% versus 9%).

This suggests the young leaders have a much broader perception of what communicating to a wider stakeholder audience means in 2016. In particular how technology has made communicating and connecting with stakeholders possible instantaneously, the challenges that presents to how companies are viewed, and how organisations need to adapt as a result.

Education will make or break tomorrow’s leaders

Alongside the questions included in the CEO Survey, AIESEC respondents were also asked about their views of what defines leadership, how to nurture it, and how it’s changing.

These young leaders are clearly believers in nurture not nature: 64% said the education system is the single most important factor in shaping and preparing young people for leadership roles in the future. Despite this, 70% believe the education system in their own country is failing to fully equip students with the skills they need to survive and thrive in the digital age.

Barry Vorster is the Leader of People & Organisation at PwC.

Looking beyond to cross the security skills chasm

Cyber-attacks, like a big old snowball, continue to grow as it rolls down the mountain. And in its wake are the good guys aka security professionals who are struggling to keep pace.
The reality is cybercriminals and so-called hactivists continue to deepen their skillsets while CISOs across the globe scramble to find skilled employees to safeguard their organisations.

A lot of businesses don’t realise that in order to stop the monstrous snowball they have to link organisational and security practices with skilled security professionals.

Finding the right people

So what should CISOs do ensure they have the right teams on board to evolve and fortify their cyber-security practices and technologies? For one, you have to take a realistic look at your team and ensure that you have, in fact, the right people for the job. A no brainer really.

Second, is to strengthen your security team with outsourced members; looking beyond permanently employed individuals. This approach is different to outsourcing an entire function like accountancy as it focuses on specific talent that can enhance your team.

Increasingly security teams are working with penetration testers, consultants and incident response (IR) experts, why should your organisation be any different? These individuals are usually heavyweights, with years in the industry, perhaps even within specific sectors – they can hit the ground running from day one.

Outsourced talent earn competitive salaries, are trained and have no reason to jump ship and they are bona fide businesses providing a service.

Automate to free up

If your team is already stretched to keep up with cyber-attacks, the chances are you are going to be caught unawares. A lot of organisational data breaches happen as a result of failure to detect and respond timeously, poorly practiced IR plans and weak log management.

Fortunately, thanks to the rise of automated technology which simplifies the process of detecting and removing threats, teams can focus on gearing themselves and their organisations against potentially high-risk cyber-attacks. Priority can therefore be given to dire security onslaughts while daily run-of-the-mill risks are managed in the background.

Automation takes the strain off resources in particularly in large organisations where a 24/7/365 capability is required. Also, with outsourced SI M (security information and event management) you can utilise the cross skills, experience and the intelligence capabilities of the vendor.

However, it is important to remember that in order for automation to be effective the security team must have an entrenched knowledge of its design and form part of the implementation.

Explore the less traditional

The glamour and potential massive earnings of social media have unfortunately lured computer science students away from building next-gen firewalls and other security innovation. As a result, CISOs have to look beyond their security teams and outsourced talent.

One suggestion is to upskill existing employees that show a passion or aptitude for security. Too often the focus is on only technical ability; security needs those with report writing, communication, analysis and people skills.

Lastly, look at other industries. Again, the nitty gritty can be taught if personnel have the appropriate skills and experiences. The ability to fight cyber-attacks and other security threats is not only about being technical but having the requisite passion and mind set.

Fred Mitchell is the Business Unit Division Manager: Symantec at Drive Control Corporation (DCC).

The power of the international arbitral award

On 20 April 2016, the Hague District Court (Netherlands), set aside an international arbitration award which originally granted a claim for damages in favour of certain shareholders in the Yukos Oil Company (Yukos), against the Russian Federation totalling more than US$50 billion (Yukos award).
The Hague District Court determined that Russia had not consented to the arbitral proceedings, that the request for arbitration was, as a consequence, invalid and set aside the largest international arbitral award ever issued. A discussion on the reasons for the setting aside of the Yukos award can be found here.

At the time of the setting aside of the Yukos award, enforcement proceedings had already been launched in France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany. Since 2 June 2015 the majority shareholders in whose favour the Yukos award was granted had successfully attached bank accounts, client receivables and immoveable property located predominantly in France, in execution of the Yukos award.

The instinctive reaction to learning that the Yukos award had been set aside would be to immediately halt all enforcement proceedings. After all, the award giving rise to the enforcement proceedings was no longer valid. Or is that necessarily the case? In international arbitration the position is not that simple. It is this ‘lack of simplicity’ which provides yet another reason why international arbitration is the most popular method for resolving international commercial disputes.

By definition, international arbitration is a process which runs independently to national courts and in so doing, seeks to avoid any undue influence from a sovereign state. It is this foundational principle that ensures that no particular entity (or state) bows down to the power of another sovereign power.

Article 5 of the New York Convention (the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards) provides for specific circumstances in which the enforcement of an award may be refused. One such circumstance is where the award has been set aside by a “competent authority of the country under the law of which that award was made”. The permissive wording of the clause is however fundamental to the effective enforcement of foreign arbitral awards.

The rationale for the wording used is quite simple – whilst an international arbitral award may have been obtained in circumstances which avoids any undue influence by sovereign power, a party seeking to review and ultimately set aside such an arbitral award is entitled to approach the national courts of the place in which the arbitral award was made, for relief. It is at this juncture that a sovereign power, has an opportunity to influence the enforcement of an international arbitral award, if it so wishes.

Practically this means that each time a court (in a New York convention signatory country) is faced with a request to enforce a foreign arbitral award (which has been set aside), it is to interrogate the facts carefully and satisfy itself that there has been no untoward dealings in the setting aside of the award in question. Such a court will always maintain a discretion as to whether or not to enforce the foreign arbitral award, regardless of whether that award has been set aside or not.

In applying these principles to the setting aside of the Yukos award, it is in theory still possible to enforce the Yukos award in other New York convention countries, but this is unlikely to occur. It would be extremely difficult to argue, for example, that the setting aside of the Yukos award was politically motivated or was tainted by undue influence of a sovereign nation as the proceedings for the setting aside of the award were successfully brought in the Netherlands and not in the country against which the award was granted.

In addition, the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards which have been set aside by a court is anything but consistent. It would appear that enforcing such an award in civil jurisdictions may prove easier than would be the case in common law systems. There is however no guarantee of this as the discretion granted under the New York convention requires that a court consider each case on its merits.

The shareholders aggrieved by the setting aside of the Yukos award have indicated their intention to appeal the decision to the Hague Court of Appeal. We are therefore likely to see a temporary suspension of efforts to execute on the Yukos award, pending the outcome of the hearing of the appeal court.

Jonathan Ripley-Evans, Dispute Resolution practice and services, Cliffe Dekker Hofmey.

The Constitutional Court clarifies the policy-making authority of school governing bodies

Education in South Africa is everyone’s concern. Each year the state, companies, non-governmental organisations, families and individuals spend billions of Rands on education in the belief that it is a primary vehicle to develop individual talents and build a stable, vibrant and economically active democracy.
Since only 4.1% of the country’s 12.8 million learners are in independent schools, the overwhelming majority of people living in South Africa come into contact with public schools, or independent schools receiving state subsidies. Thus when the Constitutional Court pronounces on the powers of school governing bodies, its decision is especially resonant and important to note.

Federation of Governing Bodies for South African Schools (FEDSAS) v Member of the Executive Council for Education, Gauteng and Another [2016] ZACC 14 concerned the validity of certain amendments to the Regulations relating to the admission of learners to public schools published in 2012 (Regulations) applicable to schools in Gauteng. At the heart of the Applicant’s complaint was its concern that the Regulations trespassed on the power of a School Governing Body (SGB) to determine school admission policies.

Public schools are run through a partnership involving SGBs (representing the interests of parents and learners), teachers, principals and provincial education departments. In particular, SGBs wield great power and responsibility at the coalface of education. Indeed, the South African Schools Act (Schools Act), No 84 of 1996 obliges SGBs to supplement the resources provided by the state to improve the quality of education at individual schools. By way of example, SGBs can:

  • set compulsory fees;
  • lease, burden or alter immovable public property;
  • hire additional teachers; and
  • permit business activity on their premises.

In addition, a SGB can set a school’s language policy, admissions criteria and dress code – each of which has implications for the manner in which a SGB can regulate admission and influence quality at an individual school.

However education is a functional area of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence. The powers of SGBs, conferred by the Schools Act, can and often do conflict with the powers and interests of provincial education authorities. In this regard, where provincial executives have encroached on what has been perceived as the SGBs’ exclusive turf, unfortunate and tense clashes have led to costly and protracted litigation.

With this context in mind, the Court has now settled that provincial education departments have the authority to exercise reasonable control over admissions and capacity in public schools. It emphasised that schools are public assets and must be used to ensure that all children are afforded access to education, remarking that:

“[Public] schools are not rarefied spaces only for the bright, well mannered and financially well-heeled learners. They are public assets which must advance not only the parochial interest of its immediate learners but may, by law, also be required to help achieve universal and non-discriminatory access to education.”

SGBs and provincial education departments must co-operate and engage meaningfully in this endeavour.

In addition the Court upheld certain regulations that will affect school admissions policies in Gauteng as follows:

Public schools are prohibited from requesting confidential information from a prospective learner’s current school before making the admission decision. Thereafter the school may call for the information on the learner it has already admitted.

The MEC for Education in Gauteng must set feeder zones for all public schools by 20 May 2017, in consultation “with relevant stakeholders”.

The Head of Department has the power to determine an individual school’s enrolment capacity and declare that a school is full, if the school has reached its enrolment capacity.

The District Director may, at the end of an admission period, place an unplaced learner “at any school”, that has not been declared full and where all learners on the waiting list have been accommodated.

The District Director may consider the relative capacity of other schools in a district as a criterion for placing a learner in a particular school.

A parent of a learner who wishes to lodge an objection against a decision refusing admission to a school may object to the Head of the Department, before appealing directly to the MEC.

In his last and unanimous judgment, Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke has provided much needed clarity in “the murky waters of the shared space between [SGBs] and provincial executives charged with the regulation of public schools.” Parents, SGBs and governing body federations ought to take heed of the Regulations in formulating and revising school admissions policies in the future to ensure compliance with provincial laws and the imperative to further equitable access to education.

Yana van Leeve and Ashley Pillay, Education and Training sector and services, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

Hidden labour expenses and ineffective labour utilisation

Labour is one of the largest costs for companies, yet many organisations are unaware they are absorbing unnecessary costs and lost productivity that are hidden in complex systems and processes.
Labour-related losses, referred to in the industry as “payroll leakage”, are a result of inadequate oversite, undermanaged timekeeping and schedule practices, improperly configured technology, lack of coordinated governance, and gaming of pay policies and schedules. Payroll leakage can account for up to .05 to 2.5 per cent of total annual payroll and labour expenses.

From technology and measurement to policies and design, many organisations are managing timekeeping, labour utilisation, and compensation in a way that is fundamentally outdated. As the makeup of the workforce transforms and new regulations come into play, measuring and monitoring how much is spent on labour can no longer be left as a periodic budget exercise. Today, the right analytics can give an organisation insight into the front-line causes of labour challenges, saving money that can be redirected into strategic initiatives and sustainable objectives.

Today’s workforce is made up of employee labour, as well as part-time or contingent workers. Increasing numbers of workers work remotely and capturing actual hours of productivity is difficult. These labour challenges are increasing the potential for missteps in labour spending and utilisation. In fact, only 19 per cent of executives surveyed believe their companies fully understand the labour laws that govern contingent workers.

These insights into the workday help organisations realise labour savings, and help employers and workers alike realise ways they can operate more effectively.

Organisations can analyse their labour resources on a few key factors – labour spending, resource utilisation and missed-revenue opportunity.

The workforce data analysis results in an actionable plan the business can use to achieve savings. These data-driven insights are focused on:

  • Avoiding paid nonproductive time, improving staffing decisions;
  • Eliminating gaming that inflates payable time and the rate of pay;
  • Enhancing customer experience and product quality;
  • Designing scheduling practices with the employee in mind; and
  • Building a case to support large-scale, overdue changes in the organisation, such as updating outdated pay policies, optimising underutilised systems, or consolidating labour decision making.

Labour costs, timekeeping and scheduling have emerged from the back-office world of purely transactional activities to become an invaluable source of financial and operational optimisation. New techniques to crunch the data that is collected about HR, payroll, scheduling and employees, when combined with other details about operations and financial results, can give entirely new ways of looking at labour spending and workforce management. Armed with insightful analytics, workforce management becomes a crucial element in corporate strategy.

We needed to better understand the financial and employee impact of pay policy decisions before implementation.

Sourced from Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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