Temporary employment is a growing trend in the South African market, with permanent positions in decline.

A recent research study conducted by recruitment firm, PageGroup, found that employers from 17 different countries were positive and confident about temporary employment.

“The majority of these employers expect the need for temporary workers to remain at high levels or to increase,” says Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions.

Some of the research findings include:
* 80,4% of all employers surveyed had a positive perception of temporary employment;
* 78,1% expect the need for temporary workers to stay the same or increase in the future;
* 50,5% of the employers chose to hire temporary workers to replace absent permanent staff; and
* 40,8% of employers used temporary staff to cope with an unexpected increase in activity.

Vittee notes that, over the past decade, the international trend has been to limit or remove restrictive labour laws in order to ensure global competitiveness. However, in South Africa, additions and amendments have proposed to labour laws, some of which have been criticised for potentially making South Africa a less attractive investment option.

This concern is supported by The World Economic Forum, which suggests that South Africa has arguably the most restrictive labour laws in the world.

Some of the proposed amendments are in response to the on-going call on the South African government to ban temporary employment agencies, referred to often as labour brokers. Rather than ban ‘labour brokers’, government has developed The Employment Services Bill, which is intended to regulate the industry. This was passed in the National Assembly late in 2013 and is pending presidential signoff to be put into law.

Whether this will have a positive or negative impact remains to be seen.

However, Stats SA’s Quarter 4, 2013 – Quarterly Labour Force Survey and the most recent Adcorp Employment Index, show that despite this the impending legislation, the only growth in South Africa’s employment level is due to an increase in temporary or short-term contracts. In fact, permanent employment is in outright decline.

The Adcorp Employment Index of May 2014 of attributes the strength of temporary staffing to restrictive labour laws, as well as the modern economy, outsourcing of non-core activities and flexible hours.

Vittee says the PageGroup research cites flexibility (89,4%), value in answering short-term needs (87,8%), benefit in identifying candidates for long-term positions (75,7%), cost-effective solution to HR challenges (61,2%) and bringing external expertise into the business (49,1%).