National Women’s Day has nothing to do with honouring women simply because they are female. Rather, it is about celebrating the bravery of 20 000 South African women who challenged the stereotype that they are politically incompetent and immature citizens who belong in the kitchen.

In 1956, when the then apartheid government proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act that aimed to tighten the pass laws which limited the movement of black women in urban areas, the Federation of South African Women decided it had had enough. The decision was made to go to Pretoria and protest against the oppressive legislation.

On 9 August thousands of women from all over South Africa, some as far afield as Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, arrived in Pretoria. All processions in the city had been banned on that day, so the women walked in twos and threes toward the Union Buildings, some carrying babies on their backs. As a multiracial group they made a colourful spectacle, dressed in green and black blouses, brilliant saris and ochre robes.

The women walked in a determined, yet orderly manner. Their leaders, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Lilian Ngoyi carried bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures supporting their issue. They intended to hand these over the to the prime minister, JG Strijdom.

When they arrived at his office, neither the prime minister nor his senior staff were there to meet them.

The women placed the signed petitions outside Strijdom’s office door. At Lilian Ngoyi’s suggestion, they stood in complete silence for a full half hour. The petitions were eventually accepted by Strijdom’s secretary.

The women then sang a protest song that had been composed especially for the occasion. Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo, which means “you strike a woman you strike a rock”, has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.

In 1995, soon after South Africa’s change to democracy, 9 August was declared a national holiday as a tribute to the many women who risked arrest, detention and banning for a free South Africa.

Addressing global payroll management

Addressing global payroll management is a complex undertaking

Managing payroll is a complex undertaking, driven by a country’s regulatory environment. When it comes to doing this on a global scale, however, the business must address the myriad of tax regulations in all the jurisdictions in which it operates, says Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies.

“While expanding operations into new territories brings compelling advantages to the company, it is important to be cognisant of local nuances such as language, culture and legislative requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to payroll management around the world. What works (and is expected) in one country might not even be relevant in another.”

Payroll is a vital business function

While using the cloud as a vehicle to help manage this from a central location has addressed some of these challenges, it is not the silver bullet that many make it out to be. Rather, it is just one component of a much more complicated environment that is continually evolving.

Payroll is a vital business function. The advantage of migrating this to the cloud is the efficiency that comes with having sight of an organisation’s global payroll in a centralised location. This ensures that there are fewer administrative tasks to be concerned about and allows more time to focus on delivering strategic value across the organisation’s footprint.”

Yet for all the attention placed on outsourcing payroll solutions, offering self-service employee platforms, and even recruiting more digitally savvy payroll managers, McAlister says it is vitally important to have the fundamentals in place.

“In fact, many payroll managers cite keeping on top of legislation in multiple tax jurisdictions as their biggest challenge. A global survey found that 41% of respondents consider this the most important obstacle to overcome, followed by managing multiple deadlines, processes, contracts and reporting.”

Global payroll delivers significant business value

Despite this, managing a global payroll delivers significant business value. This includes having access to more relevant information on the state of operations in every territory, resulting in a cohesive view of the health of the organisation. It also enables decision-makers to identify problem areas much quicker than in the past and allocate resources accordingly.

“As this results in an improved, collaborative environment, a global payroll approach must keep three critical components in mind – technology, compliance and change management. Technology revolves around assessing what is currently being used and how best to adopt other solutions. Secondly, it goes without saying that compliance must be adhered to, irrespective of the location, so the solution must be able to offer the flexibility required to do this. Finally, getting employees to use the solution and all the relevant features will be integral to its success,” says McAlister.

This is where using technology in conjunction with a people-centric approach becomes important.

“Too often, businesses simply throw technology at the problem, but using cloud-based solutions are merely one piece of the puzzle. There is still a need to have people on the ground with the necessary skills to unlock the potential created by the technology. The one cannot happen without the other,” McAlister concludes.

New parental leave law

What the new parental leave law means for your business

It is common knowledge that South African businesses have had to endure uncertainty over new legislation governing leave, particularly when it comes to planning for its impact on the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) system.

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill was signed into law in November 2018. It lays the foundation for parental leave, adoption leave and commissioning parental leave for specific employees.

The issue of work-life balance comes into play and one could argue that labour authorities are reconsidering the rights of the worker, particularly in so far as raising a family is concerned, and how this is balanced against the interests of a business.

A parent is entitled to at least ten consecutive days of parental leave

In practise, any employee who is a parent is entitled to at least ten consecutive days of parental leave, and any employee who is an adoptive parent of a child younger than two is eligible for adoption leave of at least ten consecutive weeks, or ten consecutive days of parental leave.

Why is this significant? For business operations, it is important to note that the government has decided to roll out the new leave laws in phases to ensure seamless integration with the UIF.

Configured to accommodate benefits of the new legislation

Businesstech online has quoted the Department of Labour as saying the system had to be reconfigured to facilitate the benefits of the new law and the scheduled dates for system readiness are:

Parental benefits – 31 July 2019
Adoption benefits – 11 October 2019
Commissioning parental benefits – 20 December 2019

Once the system is ready and configured to accommodate benefits of the new legislation, this can be affected across businesses.

We are entering a new chapter in the development and management of SA’s workforce… a positive step in terms of growth and sustainability.

Why Outsource your HR?

The business case for outsourcing the HR function is straightforward – it provides any-sized business with a dependable resource that can be used to effectively manage HR with less cost, less risk and less pressure on resources, if you have the right partner on board.

We do not simply endorse this business model because it is our speciality; there are practical business reasons for companies to take this route – and research backs this up.

For example, according to the ADP Research Institute the most compelling reasons for companies to consider outsourcing their HR function include: stabilise costs, lower risk, increase employee productivity and drive business results.

It is important to place these reasons in context. As we are all aware, South Africa’s economy is not growing as fast as it should be. At the time of writing this piece, the country’s GDP is forecasted to grow by just 1.5% for 2019.

Times are tough for businesses across the board and especially for SMEs, which are acknowledged to be one of the most active and sizeable contributors to the country’s economy.

SMEs, particularly, are under heavy pressure to operate with limited resources – especially spare capital and skills availability.

New developments effecting HR and technology

There really isn’t a great deal available to mobilise a team of HR experts and utilise their skills at any given time to deal with issues like tax, regulatory changes, new developments effecting HR and technology.

Lower risk is actually a lot more strategic than some would imagine. Smaller operations must do all they can to compete, sustain themselves and be agile – there is little room for mistakes, and most importantly the market is not forgiving when it comes to messing up on HR.

It really is all about choice… empowering the decision maker with a powerful alternative. They can outsource all the HR functions, or just some of them to a partner.

As experts have written, the model is described as “a kind of partnership” where the outsourcing provider acts as a “a co-employer of your staff members”.

Outsourcing the HR function

Outsourcing the HR function to an experienced, credible and established service provider will give decision makers peace of mind and time to focus on the business, and on strategy. They don’t have to worry about whether or not the company is complying with legislation, whether employees are effectively onboarded, or if the latest tax information and compliance has been considered and factored into the operation.

Once again ADP Research Institute has listed several key advantages linked to outsourcing some administration functions.

For example, it alleviates the administrative burden on internal staff, enables more cost-effective administration, and enhances integration across multiple benefits areas.

The question of whether or not to outsource something as important as HR is really not applicable anymore. The model works and continues to gain popularity within ever-increasingly competitive and resource-intensive markets. Today, it is really not about whether or not to outsource, but more when and to whom?

The gender pay gap – inequality continues to impact human resources
Gender pay gap inequality still impacts human resources (HR)

Human resource and human capital management experts agree – the fact that women are generally paid less than men in the workplace has a detrimental effect on society.  As one academic put it – “unfair pay practices perpetuate societal inequalities and keep families in poverty”.

As an industry representative organisation run by, and for HR and HCM professionals, CRS Technologies has a vested interest in monitoring the maturity and overall development of HR.

In South Africa equality is enshrined into the country’s constitution and this includes the workplace.

Any bias or inequality, however applied, and based on race, ethnicity, culture, creed, religion or gender, is outlawed. And so, we have to face facts… there is a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee to ensure equality and to enforce the law where inequality exists or is perpetuated.

Remuneration is a very topical issue at the moment, given the lack of representation of women professionals in key sectors such as IT.

Several key themes form the basis for the global gender pay gap

Academics and industry insiders have identified several key themes that form the basis for the global gender pay gap.

According to the SA Board for People Practices, these themes include skills development, careers, modes of work, job changes and pay, wage negotiations and collective bargaining.

The argument made by those protecting the rights of women in the workplace is that skill sets often stereotypically associated with women, including caring and organising, are generally not paid well.

The important point raised by HR practitioners is that it is important to check our personal feelings and bias ‘at the door’ and realise that these could easily become part of the workplace processes and procedures.

There is also the issue of wage negotiations and the role of unions and industry representatives. The argument is that in many instances it is males who are chief negotiators or representatives, which means that they don’t necessarily always have women’s rights and best interests at heart.

Skills availability will remain a challenge to industry and there is some merit in the debate that skills diversity, equality, application and relevance should begin at school level – even primary school level.

The days of some skills sets being only accessible and relevant to one gender over another are over… today, multi-skills, soft skills and professional certification remain in high demand.

Eradicate unfair treatment

We have to bear in mind that HR and employment legislation, including the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, has been put in place to eradicate unfair treatment and that covers remuneration.

The fundamental, especially when it comes to HR and HCM, is that women have as much right as their male counterparts to have their skills recognised, to be remunerated fairly for their skills, their experience, market knowledge and their value to a business as an asset.

That is the premise for what we all strive for – a workplace that enforces and protects equal opportunity, and gender equality.

Access to a tax advisory service during tax season adds value
Access to a tax advisory service adds value in a substantial manner during the annual tax season.

We all know the drill by now… around this time of the year, tax season, businesses have to ensure compliance with SARS legislation governing the submission of returns.

We also all realise that we are operating in a vastly different economic environment, in which many businesses are struggling with cash flow and unable to pay outstanding tax debt to SARS.

It is not surprising that many business owners choose to take the wrong route as a short-term solution and actually avoid submitting their returns.

Our partner and tax business continuity specialist Tax Debt Compliance is pretty clear when it comes to its advice on this issue: not only is it illegal, but not submitting a return will incur severe penalties and high interest charges for your business.

So what are operators to do? It is a bit of a catch-22 situation – not submitting may ease the pressure on cash flow (albeit temporarily), but it is not a true reflection of the state of the business and will end up costing more – however, submitting may be a stretch too far!

That is why we have partnered with Tax Debt Compliance to provide a tax advisory service.

How does this service help?

Well, it comprises a range of tax relief mechanisms:

  • Negotiation of affordable instalment agreements with SARS on behalf of your business;
  • Compromise applications to SARS which, if approved, will enable your business to settle tax debt at a reduced amount;
  • Tax due diligences to ensure compliance with South African tax legislation;
  • Formulation of tax opinions for businesses considering entering into complex transactions that could hold significant tax consequences.

These are the immediate benefits to clients looking for some kind of intervention and assistance with tax.

Not only does this mean you are actually being proactive in dealing with the challenges, you are also being realistic in terms of where the business is positioned and have a credible way of influencing the outcome.

Our tax advisory service is there to be used and to help… contact us now for more information!

Flag of Kenya
News on Kenya’s National Housing Development Fund

The latest news about Kenya’s National Housing Development Fund (NHDF) is that its implementation has been delayed.

On Monday 27 May 2019 the implementation of the NDHF levy was extended by the Employer and Labour Relations Court, which effectively barred the government from enforcing the disputed 1.5% housing levy.

This levy was supposed to take effect in May, in accordance with a government directive in April making it mandatory for employers to deduct and remit the levy by the 9th of every succeeding month.

It has come to light that the case challenging the levy was initially filed by Central Organisations of Trade Unions (COTU), as well as various other parties, including the Trade Union Congress of Kenya, Consumers Federation of Kenya (CoFeK) and the Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE).

As a leading human resources and human capital management services provider, established in Africa to keep abreast of these markets across the continent, CRS is committed to informing you – our customer – of changes to regulation. That is our mandate and that is exactly what we will continue to do.

For more information and advice, please contact our legislation team at info@crs.co.za.

How to become the employer your staff love

Making employees happy might seem like an oversimplified way to deal with the complex issues modern organisations face, but as Ian McAlister, General Manager of CRS Technologies South Africa, points out, it is fundamental to the success of a business. This is where human resources (HR) and payroll come in.

“In a way, HR and payroll become enablers to transforming a business into the caring employer its employees love. Fundamentally, happy employees are not only more loyal to the organisation, but they are more committed to ensuring customers are happy as well. And in a competitive landscape, this can mean the difference between success and failure.”

So, how does HR and payroll figure into this transformation mix?

Simply put, the former deals with the people processes in a business, while the latter is focused on the payment of salaries. In the past, many people only cared about doing their job and getting paid for it. Over the years, this rands and cents approach has shifted significantly to one that is more integrated and life-focused.

“Yes, people do their jobs because they get paid to do so, but it is about so much more than that,” says McAlister.

Empowering people with skills and tools they never had access to before

“The democratisation of technology is empowering people with skills and tools they never had access to before. This is creating an increasingly sophisticated workforce where people bring unique skills to an organisation beyond the scope of what their jobs might require. HR and payroll can unlock this hidden value by being more human-centric and determining where best these skills can be applied.”

At face value, an employer that shows its employees it is more focused on delivering a 360-degree environment where people receive recognition for all the skills they bring to the company, is one where such wellness and other initiatives gain significant success.

“Part of this sees HR and payroll needing to move from the traditionally held perception that it is just there to tick boxes and pay salaries. Instead, today’s HR services encompass a broader list of requirements than in the past. While remuneration is part of this, so too are employee rewards, wellness initiatives, business process re-engineering, skills development, and data analysis.”

Constant pressure to perform

Unfortunately, the evolution of technology has changed the nature of business. There is constant pressure to perform on a local and global level, especially given the competitive nature of the digital environment.

“Decision-makers need to find trusted partners they can rely on to take care of their HR and payroll functions so that they can remain focused on their strategic objectives. This is as much about enhancing existing operations as it is about delivering new platforms for employee engagement. And once this changes, happy employees will result in much happier work environments,” McAlister concludes.

To find out more how HR and payroll can transform your business to become the employer your staff love, please feel free to contact us for more information.

Workplace Skills Planning and Training

Only a few days remain until 30 April 2019 – the final date on which South African employers can submit their Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) and Annual Training Report (ATR) to their respective Skills Education Training Authority (SETA).

CRS Technologies, a leader in HR and human capital management solutions, also points out that employers with a total salary bill of R500 000+ over a 12-month period are required to pay SDL levies to SARS every month.

SARS distributes these fees to the respective SETAs which, in turn, allocate the fees to grants.

SETAs offer mandatory grants to employers investing in their employee development, while discretionary grants are awarded to develop scarce skills.

This is where CRS can – and does – make a difference, by helping employers secure a return on the investment in their employees.

Nicol Myburgh, who heads up the HR business unit at CRS Technologies, says the company is ideally positioned to help businesses submit their SETA reports and ensure that they benefit from the process.

“The submission process is complex and requires a meticulous approach to gathering and applying information,” says Myburgh.

”The relevant legislation is extensive and must be carefully considered when compiling the workplace skills plan and annual training report. This is where CRS Technologies can assist clients in understanding the legislation and its impact, and advise them on the best practice process to compliance.”

Compliance with SARS and SETA regulation is mandatory and while Myburgh advises a careful and attentive approach, he also recommends enlisting the services of an experienced and knowledgeable partner on board for the best results.

Health and safety continues to have a strong focus in the local mining sector with accidents and illegal activities continuing to be of concern. However, beyond this, how has health and safety expanded into other sectors in the market?

For one, evolving technology has enhanced the ability of the health and safety officer to fulfil their role. There is a strong administrative component in health and safety that can now be linked to productivity solutions and automated to some extent.

But it is not just about technology. Even though HR is involved with health and safety to a limited extent, it is rather a resource to be used. This is especially relevant in terms of participating in a safety committee and often being involved in the safety structure and the provision of protective clothing and the like. However, it is up to each organisation to define to what extent HR is involved in this process.

Even though health and safety, to a certain extent in non-industrial organisations, was viewed as a ‘necessary evil’, this has changed. In South Africa, there is a growing culture of safety awareness. Often, health and safety is paired with quality environmental matters. This results in the appointment of a SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment, Quality) officer or a SHE (Safety, Health, Environment) officer.

Adding impetus to this is a massive increase in the awareness of environmental issues amongst the younger generations, particularly when it comes to climate change. This has a spinoff in creating a mindfulness in organisations when it comes to health and safety and any associated environmental issues.

After all, employees have a massive influence on practical health and safety. They have a duty to work in a safe manner. If they do not, they may be disciplined. If misconduct in respect of safety matters is of a gross nature, they may be dismissed.

An example in an industrial organisation would be if a machine-minding employee sleeps while the machine runs. This is seen as gross misconduct and often takes place where employees are required to work night shifts. Where employees effectively do their jobs in a safe manner daily, they ensure safety in the workplace. Where they are negligent, they may create a safety hazard.

All told, health and safety will remain integral to the success and growth of any organisation irrespective of size and industry. How it chooses to approach it, remains up to the decision-makers.