Labour Market Regulation: International and South African Perspectives

by BENJAMIN, P., 2005
Research Report, Employment Growth & Development Initiative, Human Sciences Research Council

The first ten years of democracy in South Africa saw a significant programme of labour market regulation, as the new regime extended labour rights to employees and established structures to overcome apartheid deficits. Effective regulation has to address new forms of workforce segmentation, and new models of the employment relationship in the developed world provide important insights into the possibilities for improving security and assisting workers in enhancing their employability. Benjamin reviews the literature on the rationale for labour market regulation, and assesses the debates on labour market regulation in South Africa. He starts by discussing the categories of labour market regulation, followed by the rationale and purpose of such regulation. The next section reviews labour law and the changing nature of work, and its impact in terms of higher insecurity and reduced occupational health and safety. The paper then assesses evidence from other developing countries, and looks at the impact of globalisation on labour market regulation, models for understanding contemporary employment, labour market flexibility, human rights, and the internationalisation of labour law. The next sections review South Africa’s Labour Relations Act in detail and provide recommendations for further research.