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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Internal Labour Market

This comparative analysis of the internal labour market concentrates mainly on central governmental departments and provincial administrations and not local governments, universities and parastatal institutions. Up to 30 June 1994 there were 11 civil services (including TBVC states and self- governing territories) serving the country. Since 1 July 1994, the country has had a new unified civil service consisting of 36 departments, offices and services at national level and 9 provincial administrations. The rationalisation of the former departments, administrations and other components into the new integrated civil service commenced on 1 July 1994 and some departments are still in the process of rationalisation.

Comparative Analysis of Occupational Groups

The civil service consists only of persons employed by those departments and provincial administrations listed in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Public Service Act, 1994 (No 103 of 1994). This does not include personnel employed by local authorities and public corporations (SA Post Office, Escom, Transnet, etc.) or certain parastatal institutions such as the scientific councils and cultural institutions (see Annexure A, Figures A1-A2). The breakdown of the present Public Service (including the former TBVC states and self-governing territories) of the Republic per occupational group for 1994 is as follows:





23,0%.....271 322


Health and Social Services

13,0%.....147 421


Protection Services (SAPS, SANDF, Correctional Services)

13,0%.....147 038


Support Services (administrative and logistical support)

33,0%.....373 910


Regulatory Services

2,0%.....18 762

1:2 123


16,0%.....179 270



100,0%.....1 137 723


Note: The personnel classified as "other" above, includes functional activities, the establishment of infrastructure and the rendering of aid.)

The Public Service Commission (central personnel institution whose members are appointed by the President) plays a prominent role in the personnel function and in the administration of the civil service. The Public Service Commission delivers a staff function to all state departments and provincial administrations that fall under the provisions of the Public Service Act, 1994. The internal labour market in the civil service is regulated by the Public Service Act, 1994, the Public Service Regulations and the Public Service Staff Code. These Acts (plus delegations) are utilised throughout the civil service to ensure uniformity in personnel practices and to establish standarised norms and standards.

Apart from the Commission, an Office of the Minister for the Public Service and Administration was established in 1995. Its main responsibility has been to support the Minister in facilitating the transformation of the civil service into one that will efficiently and effectively serve the new democratic order. Consultation took place to transfer the executive functions of the Commission to the office of the Minister (Republic of SA, 1996a:6).

Job definition and Classification Systems

South Africa's civil service has a career system which classifies careers into different categories or occupational classes with specific measures according to upward mobility. Each occupational class is defined in terms of its tasks, duties, responsibilities, experience, training and the skills that are required of a specific officer (Andrews, 1988: 71). These occupational classes are outlined in the Personnel Administration Standard (PAS). The structure of such an occupation class extends from an entrance rank to a deputy director rank. The rank of deputy director is regarded as the highest occupational class but employees can advance to the management echelon (starting as director) if they meet all the requirements.

Three primary classifications of public service personnel can be differentiated, namely employment, departmental and job classification. Employment classification pertains to a classification made in the Public Service Act, 1994 by differentiating between officers (employed permanently) and employees (employed temporarily). Jobs are classified into an A and a B division. A candidate to be employed in the A division requires a prior recommendation from the Public Service Commission, whereas this can usually be dealt with departmentally in the case of a B division, unless there is a directive to the contrary (Republic of SA, 1996a:9).

The job classification and Personnel Administration Standards are formulated, maintained and administered by the Public Service Commission. Against each job is stated the approved base of enrolments, the department concerned which on their establishment created the jobs referred to, and the department of the permanent establishment in which the jobs concerned have been grouped (Andrew 1988: 83). In these Personnel Administration Standards (PAS) the career prospects of officers in that specific job may be determined. These aspects, such as appointment requirements, terms of promotion, personnel evaluation, evaluation of and reporting on job performance, study benefits, retirement and termination of services serve as standards for the personnel function and also differentiation among different jobs (Andrews, 1988: 84-86).

The jobs in the management echelon are (from the lowest in hierarchy to the highest) Director, Chief Director, Deputy Director-General and Director-General (head of a civil service department) or an equivalent. All posts in the management echelon are normally advertised within as well as outside the public service. The filling of advertised posts up to and including the level of Director by means of transfer / promotion / appointment in terms of the provisions of section 11 of the Public Service Act was also delegated to departments and provincial administrations (Republic of SA, 1996a:15) up to and including the level of Director. Only the Director-General is being appointed on a contract basis for a period of 5 years or else a shorter period may be approved. This contract may be extended at its expiry but may not exceed an additional 5 years.


Mobility Rules

The criteria for promotion to higher ranks are contained in the Personnel Administration Standard (PAS system). A typical structure of an occupational class is:

Ø. an entrance/training rank;

Ø. a number of production ranks;

Ø. an assistant director rank; and

Ø. a deputy director rank.

Specific criteria are laid down in the PAS (Specific Criteria for Specific Job), the Public Service Staff Code and the Public Service Act 1994, these are qualification, level of training, merit, efficiency and suitability of persons who qualify for appointment, as well as broad criteria for transfer and promotion. These criteria are stipulated in detail in the Public Service Staff Code (B.V1).

Promotions below the management echelon may in general be finalised independently by departments in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Commission. These include the filling of posts in the civil service up to and including the level of Chief Director, at which level promotions cannot be handled within the guidelines; and the recomnmendation of the Comission is still needed.

Career promotion can be divided into different classes (Andrews 1988: 212):

Ø. Special promotion (relaxing the normal requirements for promotion)

Ø. Promotion on merit (using the personnel evaluation system)

Ø. Performance promotion (exceptionally competent)

Protected promotion (given to a staff member who, because of circumstances beyond his or her control, has been preceded by a junior staff (merit) member.

The transfer policy for officers of the central government departments in South Africa is stipulated in the Public Service Act 1994 as amended (Sections 13, 14, 15). Section 14 provides that when public interest demands it, any personnel member may be transferred from the position he or she holds to any other department up to and including the level of Chief Director. This include the provincial administrations. This position can be a "low grade" but the officer's salary scale may not be reduced, or if it is a higher grade than his/her own, he or she is not entitled to a higher salary scale. However, this may be recommended by the Public Service Commission.

In case of interdepartmental transfers both departments need to give their approval. In cases of transfer between different provincial administrations and departments on the national level and a provincial administration the prior recommendation of the Public Service Commission is no longer needed (Republic of SA, 1996a:15) and was delegated to the provincial administrations (Public Service Staff Code - BV1/1V).

The Public Service Act, 1994 (Section 11) provides that when posts cannot be filled in a satisfactory manner by firstly transfer (in a case where the officer has a rank or grade equal to the vacant post), or secondly by promotion, the appointment of a person who is not an incumbent may be recommended. Incumbents therefore hold an advantage over non-incumbents, although the posts are accessible to any person who qualifies.

Affirmative Action Programme of the Civil Service

Although section 11 of the Public Service Act, 1994 confirms the merit principle in the Constitution, another section was promulgated which determines that to promote the aims of the 1996 Constitution (Article 9 (2)) in the case of non-partisan candidates (also non-officers) applying for vacant posts, equal treatment and preference may be given to applicants from previously disadvantaged groups. A broadly representative civil service is thus a constitutionally stated objective while affirmative action is the means for achieving the objective. Affirmative action plans and frameworks are aimed at redressing any imbalance which may exist as a result of any discriminatory laws and/or practices. Aspects emphasised are race, gender, disability, education as well as lack of training opportunities or a combination of these (Public Service Staff Code (B VII). Chapter B (Special) of the Public Service Staff Code makes provision for interim measures relating to the staffing of the rationalised structures of the civil service. (See Annexure A Figure A3 for statistics on employment, comparative employment for national departments and provincial administrations and employment by population group.) Annexure B shows early termination of service in the management echelon (before 1994 about 90% white males occupied posts in the management echelon) and 1995 figures on the affirmative programmes. Annexure A, Figures A4-A8 gives a indication of the affirmative programmes with a high percentage on retirement "to the advantage of the State". A more detailed analysis of these statistics are attached (Annexure C).

Staff Development

Bursaries are awarded to student officers and employees to enable them to study at undergraduate or post graduate level. The selection of candidates for the special bursaries has been delegated to departments and provincial administrations. The criteria stipulated in the Public Service Staff Code are that:

Ø. the system used for the selection of candidates must be publicly justifiable;

Ø. the appropriateness of courses/subjects in which study was/is undertaken must be decisive; and

Ø. the merit and efficiency principles must be applied.

The scheme is specifically directed at needy black students enrolled for a university degree or a technikon diploma. In 1995 390 new bursaries were awarded in various fields of study appropriate for the civil service (Republic of SA, 1996a:13). Each department budgets for its own training and bursaries. Each department also runs its own in-service training, with the result that figures of the proportion of officers and employees who undergo training differ from department to department and from year to year (Republic of SA, 1995).

Efforts to obtain assistance from the international donor community, which started early in 1995, gained momentum. Commitments, such as that of the International Labour Organisation regarding the training of trainers and of the Civil Service College in the United Kingdom to assist the South African Management Development Institute (SAMDI) in the reconstruction process, have been made. The first course in Project Management was presented with the assistance of USAID, the United Nations Development Programme and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. (See the statistics which reflect attendance of courses and seminars presented by SAMDI during 1995 in Annexure D).

Some occupational classes are subjected to internal tests and exams (outside of their formal training) before candidates may be allowed to function within an occupational group, (e.g. personnel officers). SAMDI as the central training institute organises training programmes in collaboration with other institutions.

Work Security and Membership

There are two categories laid down by the Public Service Act, 1994, in terms of which an official's services may be terminated, namely compulsory and voluntary retirement. In terms of compulsory retirement an officer may be retired when reaching the prescribe pensionable age (65 years). Officers who were employed before 1955 have the right to retire at the age of 60 in the case of a man and 55 in the case of a woman (Public Service Staff Code BXV/11). Specific officers have a choice of retiring before reaching the age of 65. Even if a department does not support a request, it remains the function of the Public Service Commission to decide on a request and make recommendations to the relevant authority (Public Service Staff Code (B.XV/11). Officers may also be retired because of poor physical or psychological health, inability to handle difficult or changing circumstances, misconduct, redundancy or for the sake of improving efficiency or economising (Public Service Act 1994).

Voluntary retirement refers inter alia to officers who resign or abscond. The pension benefits which an officer receives on resignation or when he/she absconds are determined by statute. When an officer dies, provision is made for the benefits to be paid to his dependants from the pension fund concerned. As from 1994 a premature retirement is offered to officers above the age of 50 years to proceed to early retirement as part of an affirmative action strategy. This offer stopped on 31 March 1995. Officers who applied for this earlier retirement complied with one or more of the following criteria: 30 years of service, 50 years old or had to be at the rank of assistant director or higher.

The formula for the South African civil service pension fund is based on the period of contribution (number of years), contributions made and salary on retirement (Andrews 1988: 334). When an officer retires the pension benefit consists of a gratuity. An officer must complete a specific number of years before he/she can qualify for a pension (Andrews 1988: 330-334). All permanently employed personnel in the South African Public Service are compelled to be members of the Government Pension Fund. Personnel of universities, other staturory bodies, parliamentarians and ambassadors belong to separate pension schemes. (Annexure E).

Pay Parity between Public and Private Sector for Equal Work.

The aim of the South African civil service is to pay civil servants moderately market-related salaries. Due to financial constrains, this goal cannot always be achieved, as can be seen from the comparison between civil service and private sector remuneration in Annexure F.

Size of Wage Differentials within or between Occupational Groups.

Occupational classes are grouped into a number of occupational groups on the basis of specific relationships. A core salary structure(s) and standard service dispensation measures are designed for each occupational group in a way that ensures the maintenance of harmony and equilibrium within the occupational groups. In 1996 a new salary grading system was implemented to be completed over a period of three years by 31 March 1999; the effect is that the existing multitude of salary scales has been reduced substantially, the minimising of the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid public servants and salaries, the simplification of personnel administration and improvement of career pathing because of the linking of occupational classes and the filling of gaps in the salary structures (Pretorius 1996:5). There are 16 standard salary ranges and each occupational class will utilise a specific number of these ranges according to its specific needs (Pretorius, 1996:5). The majority of current occupational allowances will be incorporated into salaries. Pensionable occupational allowance will, be however be payable to certain occupations depending on market-relatedness (Republic of SA, 1996a: 8). A "flatter" salary structure (i.e. the replacement of post promotion wirh rank promotion) in certain occupational classes had been established (Pretorius, 1996:7).

Determinants of Pay Rates and Pay Increases

Pay and contributions of service are determined with due consideration to:

Ø. remuneration and other benefits in the open labour market;

Ø. the qualitative and quantitative personnel position in occupation classes;

Ø. the needs of the employer;

Ø. the needs of employees;

Ø. internal relationships within and between occupational groups;

Ø. affordability with due consideration to national priorities;

Ø. sound labour relations; and

Ø. conditions of supply and demand in the labour market.

Pay and conditions of service are determined in accordance with a system where adjustments are negotiated with approved employee organisations like the Public Service Bargaining Council at central level (Pretorius, 1996:4).

Money Incentives to Public Servants

Service Bonus

A civil servant is entitled to a service bonus equal to 93% of his or her basic monthly salary. If the person does not qualify for membership of a pension fund, (for example, a temporary person employed under a contract), the service bonus is the equivalent of 100% of his or her basic monthly salary.

Merit Awards for Sustained Above-Average Work Performance

There are measures (Section 37 (2)(c) of the Public Service Act, 1994) in terms of which people (excluding personnel in the management echelon) may be granted merit awards if they have distinguished theimselves from their peers through sustained above-average work performance. The awards constitute higher salary notches or grades, depending on the assessment the person obtained.

Special Recognition for Suggestions, Inventions, Improvements and for Exceptional Achievements/Contributions

There are measures in terms of which rewards in recognition of suggestions, inventions, improvements, etc., or for exceptional achievements or contributions, may be made to personnel (Republic of SA, 1996a). Other incentives such as medical assistance (subsidised at a rate of two-thirds by the Public Service), a home ownership allowance with an allowance per month based on a spesific mortgage loan, leave of absence/leave gratuities and long-service recognition are also applied. State housing is also available but only where it is essential for the execution of an officer's duties (Republic of SA 1995: 11-12).

Rules affecting the distribution of rewards.

See Annexure E.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.