“JOBS for cash” is not a new phenomenon. We observe this with clients on a quite frequent basis.

It’s quite simple. Someone within the company, with influence over recruitment and selection decisions, accepts cash to ensure a job applicant’s employment. It can occur with human resources staff, and line management alike.

One such case this issue was that of Mphela Zebulon Matlou v Exxaro [CCMA arbitration: case number LP5338-14]. In this case, “the boyfriend to her younger sister had paid another man the money as he promised that he would get the jobs for them. They had recorded their conversation with him”. The arbitration awarded noted that “The (employee) told him that he knows one Wiseman who can arrange a job for him. But this Wiseman will need R5000-00. In the presence of his parents he gave the (employee) R5000.00 and his CV. His girlfriend’s sister was also looking for a job so he gave the (employee) another R5000.00 and her CV. In total, he gave the (employee) R10000-00”.

This all too familiar scenario continued when, as time went by and the (employee) started avoiding his calls. “He sent the (employee) an sms. He even confronted the (employee) several times to repay the money even if it was in instalments”. Yet a further witness testified that “She went to Lephalale to give Piet R5000-00 to give it to the (employee). Piet provided her with the contact details of the (employee). Within a week she contacted the (employee) who indeed confirmed receipt of the money and the CV. They contacted each other and she would even ask the (employee) how far he was. The (employee) advised her to be patient.

After Easter week-end they met in Polokwane. The applicant promised her that after July things would be fine. After July, she started calling the (employee) who was ignoring her calls. The (employee) knew her two numbers and when he called on a different number she would respond. She told him that July had passed and that she then demanded her money.

She met the (employee) at the Steers in Lephalale. She was in the company of her boyfriend. She bugged their conversation”. She further contacted the employee around November and December he promised to repay her in February. Later the employee reneged on the agreement saying they did not sign and there was nothing she could do to him”. Needless to say, no jobs were forthcoming. The dismissal of the employee for “selling jobs” was upheld by the CCMA.

In the further case of ITU obo Monica Zulu v Tiger Brands Albany Bakery (Pty) Ltd [CCMA arbitration: Case number GAJB26681-14], the employee was dismissed for “soliciting payment in return for a permanent job”. In this case, the evidence was that the dismissed employee informed job applicants that they were required to pay a R50,00 “joining fee” and an additional R500,00 payment “was to make sure he secured a permanent position” with the employer.

In Paul Maboya v Setloblox (Pty) Ltd [CCMA arbitration: Case number 10305-17], the dismissed employee had informed two job applicants that “they had to pay him R2 000.00 each in order for them to secure employment”. Two job applicants “borrowed it (the money) from their relatives as they were desperate for employment”. The arbitration award continued that “The 2 witnesses became anxious when the applicant stopped communicating with them and they were still unemployed in January. They lodged a complaint with the respondent about their apparent swindling at the hand of the applicant”.

The Commissioner rightly held that “the applicant took advantage of their anxiety to earn income by extorting money that they did not have to benefit himself. The applicant knew that his conduct was wrong because he covertly arranged to meet with the 2 witnesses in places payment from the destitute and vulnerable job seekers, where the exchange of monies would not be obvious to his employers …. (the employee received) payment from the destitute and vulnerable job seekers”. This is a somewhat difficult, clandestine, activity which is difficult to uncover in the absence of whistle blowers. Vigilance in recruitment and selection goes some way in deterring and identifying this uncouth practice.

Tony Healy is a labour law expert at labour law consultancy Tony Healy & Associates. For column back-copies, visit: Tony Healy & Associates.

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