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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  11 May 2012

LABOUR: Number of SA Jobs Grows Sharply


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Employment grew sharply, at an annualised 4.3% in April, representing the creation of 69 780 jobs during the month according to the latest Adcorp Employment Index.

This is the fourth consecutive month in which employment growth has been strong, the JSE-listed human capital management group said.

The April index indicates that temporary work, up 5.8% and permanent jobs, up 4.2%, were the strongest performers.

Formal sector employment represented 72.3% of the gain (or 50 587 jobs), and informal sector employment accounted for the remaining 19 193 jobs.

Adcorp found that employment growth was strong across all categories, but fell sharply in mining, down 11.8% and manufacturing, down 6.2%.

Employment in the transport, logistics and communication sector increased sharply up 19.4%. It also grew robustly in retail and wholesale trade, up 11. 2% and construction, up 7.0%.

This is manifestly good news for an economy striving for growth in a global environment that makes growth difficult,” says Loane Sharp, labour economist at Adcorp. “And new job creation is heartening in a climate of high unemployment.”

But while there is good news on the job creation front the index also reveals an increasing trend of absenteeism through illness which has had a profound financial effect on the South African economy.

According to Adcorp sickness-related absenteeism has cost South Africa R47.5 billion in the past 11 years and it has grown four-fold since 2000. In 2011 alone, 3.4 million workers, equivalent to a loss of output of R3.9 billion, were absent as a result of sickness, up from 0.7 million in 2000 – an increase of 397%.

Adcorp says between 2009 and 2011, one-quarter of all workers took up the maximum statutory allowance for sick leave – 36 days in a three-year cycle.

The cost to the economy has been enormous,” says Sharp. “The average output per worker in 2011 was R140 855 per year – or R574.92c per working day – with the result that the loss of output due to sickness in 2011 alone totalled R3.9 billion.”

However due to the unplanned and unpredictable nature of sick leave the knock-on effect on productivity has probably been greater than the figures suggest, says Sharp.

It may, indeed, have led, in part, to the growing phenomenon of temporary or ‘contingency’ workers, many of whom fill in for employees who are absent from work. As several studies have shown, roughly half (43.7%) of agency workers (so-called ‘labour broker’ workers) are employed as substitutes for absent employees.”

Sharp says the problem of absenteeism is most pronounced in the government sector, where 33.6% of workers are absent for health reasons during a year, compared to a considerably smaller 9.2% for the private sector.

Poor managerial oversight, lax administrative controls, outmoded information systems and weak human resource functions in the government sector appear to contribute to the poor control of absenteeism.

In addition to government, the mining, transport and logistics and utilities sectors appear to be heavily represented in the sectoral profile of absenteeism in South Africa. Finance, personal services, communication, wholesale and retail trade and agriculture have the lowest sick leave rates.”

Sharp says there are many reasons for high absenteeism. “In genuine cases of illness, the workplace and the nature of the work itself may be implicated in absenteeism. In false cases, the take-up of statutory maximum sick leave allowances is a function of how generous those allowances are, and the degree to which absenteeism is monitored and controlled.”

The continuous rise of sick leave over the last decade is alarming says Sharp adding that currently there are no signs of this trend reversing.

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