GOVERNMENT has allowed employment agencies to obtain 5% of a jobseeker’s first monthly salary if they get them a job, making it more expensive to secure employment in the country.
As of the end of the second quarter, the labour force stood at 4 034 721 out of a 8 976 472 total working age population.
Employment agencies have become good avenues for seeking jobs in a country whose economy continues to shrink, leading to fewer job openings.
Yet, the Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare ministry gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 223 of 2023 which authorised employment agencies to charge jobseekers 5% of their first monthly wage.
“The fees to be charged by an employment agency shall be in the case of a jobseeker, for placing him or her in employment, a maximum of five per centum of the remuneration earned by the job-seeker during his or her first month in employment or part thereof,” the ministry said.
“In the case of an employer for whom the services of an employee have been secured, a maximum of 20 per centum of the annual rate of remuneration to be paid to the employee.”
The ministry also allowed employment agencies to charge their clients 10% above the cost of advertising.
“The fees to be charged by an employment agency shall be in the case of any client, for the insertion of an advertisement in any publication, the actual cost of inserting the advertisement plus a maximum service charge of 10 per centum of the cost,” the ministry said.
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“Provided that, where an advertisement is inserted on behalf of a jobseeker, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply, unless, before the insertion of the advertisement, the provisions of this paragraph have been explained to the jobseeker and he or she has given his or her written agreement to pay the charge concerned,” the ministry said.
However, despite the increase in costs, the ministry said: “Nothing contained in sub-section (1) shall be construed as permitting any person to charge a fee or to receive any fee or any other payment or reward for the registration of a jobseeker with an employment agency.”
Further, an agent will not be allowed to refer a jobseeker to an employer unless he or she has made all such inquiries as are reasonably practicable for the purpose of ascertaining that several conditions are met.
These include that the jobseeker and prospective employer are aware of any Act-imposed conditions they must meet before starting the work and that the prospective employer’s hiring of the jobseeker would not violate any other Act, requirement or condition.
Other conditions are that the jobseeker and prospective employer know the employment agency’s terms and conditions as well as the potential employee having the requisite qualifications for the work.
The government also moved to curb fake employment agencies by stipulating a fine of US$400 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both on any employment agency operating without a valid certificate.
The application for and inspection of an employment agency fee has been pegged at a non-refundable US$50.
“Registration of each employment agency shall be US$100, and renewal of registration of each agency shall be US$150,” the ministry said.
“For the late renewal of registration of each employment agency, that is, renewal after a period of 14 days when the previous certificate of registration of the agency expired, shall be US$5 (per working day for a maximum of 90 days).”
SI 223 of 2023 also compels agencies to return expired certificates of registration to the registrar or to notify the registrar of any cessation of business or change of ownership of an agency.
Further, failure to maintain records in the manner required, charging excessive fees or charging fees for registering a jobseeker in contravention of the regulations, and failing to submit monthly statistical returns are now now offences.