Hiring foreigners in South Africa
Recently, the Minister of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Malusi Gigaba, was quoted saying that no company in South Africa is allowed to have more than 40% foreigners in employment. He sadly crossed his own wires with that statement, as there is no such law in the Company’s Act or corresponding legislation emanating from the Department of Labour (DoL). Within the DHA the only law close to this, and possibly what Gigaba was referring to, is specifically for companies hiring foreigners in South Africa under a Corporate Visa. They are bound by an additional clause instructing them to have at least a 60% South African component of their workforce.
Is an SA company allowed to hire foreigners?
Yes, any company can extend and offer of employment to a non-South African citizen. There is no law that says a company cannot do this. However, the employee must obtain a work visa for South Africa.
Of all the work visas possible, the most viable and with the most benefits is the Critical Skills Work Visa. Without skills on the critical skills work visa list, it is unlikely that the new incumbent will get the required visa and therefore permission to work. A general work visa requires the very rare DoL approval, while an intra-company work visa requires the company to have an office in the foreigner’s country and at least six months work in that office at the time of application.
Thus, while there is no problem in offering and hiring foreigners in South Africa, not all foreigners will be able to get a work visa. Usually, but not always, these workers have skills that are available in South Africa already.
Why not hire South Africans?
Thus, it is always worth asking yourself – have you looked properly in South Africa. It’s no sin to hire someone from another country, but if the skills are available to you and your company within the Republic, then you have to wonder why you are going to the trouble of bringing in expats, often at a higher cost and requiring more effort.
Hiring foreigners in South Africa is simple – when the need for a critical skill arises, look abroad – do so. If you find someone you would like to hire who qualifies, then move forward with their application. Assist them and use their valuable experience and insights to better your company. You can safely hire from other countries if the skills are right.