Tuesday, 18 June 2024

In Business

The Trusted Employer Scheme is a Game-Changer for Business in South Africa

In a bid to boost investment and attract the skills needed to achieve significant economic growth, South Africa has introduced the Trusted Employer Scheme (TES).

This new initiative, unveiled by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the annual South Africa Investment Conference in April 2023, is set to streamline the work visa system, providing a flexible and efficient pathway for skilled applicants and their employers. In this article, we'll explore the Trusted Employer Scheme, its purpose, qualifying criteria, benefits, and how to apply, shedding light on the potential it holds for businesses and foreign employees.

What Is the Trusted Employer Scheme?

South Africa boasts a solid foundation for facilitating the entry of skilled workers into the country. However, the unpredictability of visa adjudications has been limiting the effectiveness of the existing policies. The Trusted Employer Scheme aims to overcome this challenge by offering a structured pathway for attracting skilled workers and managing immigration, especially when dealing with high application volumes.

To qualify for the Trusted Employer Scheme, businesses must demonstrate their financial capability to employ foreign nationals, engage in training programs for South African citizens, and uphold a reputation as responsible corporate citizens. Participants in the program can also benefit from priority processing of visa applications due to reduced requirements and supporting documents.

Purpose of the Trusted Employer Scheme

The primary objective of the Trusted Employer Scheme is to recognize and reward trustworthy users of the program by offering fewer document requirements and faster processing times for visa applications. For corporate employers, the most significant incentive is the ability to quickly process visa applications and mobilize foreign employees, enabling them to begin generating revenue from their services sooner.

Unlike traditional immigration systems that place most compliance obligations on the government, the Trusted Employer Scheme shifts this burden to the employers, with corresponding sanctions for non-compliance. This means that businesses must adhere to the program's requirements to maintain their trusted status.

Qualifying Criteria

To become a Trusted Employer in South Africa, companies need to meet specific criteria and earn a minimum of 80 points. These criteria are designed to ensure that businesses contribute to the country's economic development and uphold certain standards.

Investment: Companies should make a financial investment in South Africa or pledge to do so, with a threshold set at R500 million, as an example, to earn 20 points.

Employment: Employ at least 500 workers, with a minimum of 60% being South African citizens, to earn 25 points.

Sector: Companies operating in sectors of national priority or strategic importance, as identified by the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC), can earn an additional 15 points.

Skills Transfer: Demonstrate an existing Skills Transfer Program or Graduate Development Program for South African citizens to earn 10 points.

Enterprise Size: Points are allocated based on the number of employees and annual turnover. A full table of criteria is provided, with the minimum annual turnover and number of local employees specified for each sector.

How to Apply

Once the Trusted Employer Scheme is launched, all corporations will have a 30-day window to apply. However, only 100 corporations will be accepted initially, and the scheme will undergo a 100-day review period to ensure that everything is in order. After this initial period, more corporations will be able to register. It's essential to note that corporations need to register themselves, rather than relying on third-party providers to do so.

When applying for the Trusted Employer Scheme, corporations need to submit specific information, including:

A brief introduction of the company and the economic sector in which it operates.

Information on any pledges made to the South African Investment Conference (SAIC).

Details on employment, including proof of having over 500 employees, with at least 60% of the total staff complement being South African citizens.

Information on investment or business operations in sectors identified as national priorities or of strategic importance.

Details on a Skills Transfer Program or Graduate Development Program for South African citizens.

Information on the size of the enterprise, including the total number of full-time equivalent paid employees and the total annual revenue.

In addition to submitting an application, corporations need to provide specific company documents, such as registration proof with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), Tax Compliance Status, and evidence of registration with the Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries and Diseases, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). They must also provide Employment Equity (EE) reports to demonstrate their commitment to this requirement.

Benefits of the Trusted Employer Scheme

Participating in the Trusted Employer Scheme comes with several benefits for qualifying employers:

Premium Visa Application Centers: All visa applications for Trusted Employer Scheme participants will be processed through Premium Visa Application Centers and One Stop Shop Premium Lounges. This streamlines the visa application process, saving time and reducing administrative hassles.

Reduced Visa Requirements: TES employers enjoy reduced visa requirements, easing the administrative burden on businesses.

Dedicated Key Account Manager: Each TES employer will have a dedicated Key Account Manager at the Department of Home Affairs, ensuring a smoother application process.

Faster Processing Times: Work visa outcomes for TES employers will be obtained within 10-40 working days, significantly reducing processing times.

The Trusted Employer Scheme is a significant step towards making South Africa an attractive destination for foreign investment and skilled talent. By offering faster and more efficient visa processing, reduced costs, and improved compliance, this program holds the potential to drive economic growth and job creation.

The Trusted Employer Scheme offers businesses the opportunity to contribute to South Africa's growth and development while benefiting from streamlined immigration processes. With the goal of attracting R2-trillion in new investments over the next five years, this initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for the South African economy.

The introduction of the Trusted Employer Scheme is a positive step towards improving immigration services in South Africa. By encouraging businesses to participate in the scheme, the country can boost investment, job creation, and economic growth, benefiting both employers and the nation as a whole. We are cautiously optimistic about the efficiency and success of this program and look forward to seeing its positive impact on South Africa's business landscape.

Source: DTIC

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