Wait a minute! Four of Ghana’s top security agencies-the Police Service, the Immigration Service, the Fire Service and the Prisons Service a couple of weeks ago advertised for enlistment into the services. By courtesy of Media General (TV3), it was reported that one hundred and eight thousand, three hundred sixty –four applicants (108,364) had applied into the Police Service alone, three days far to the end of the advertised period.
Each of the applicants was requested to pay GH¢100.00 for the application process. In the milieu, the Police Service has indicated that it received financial clearance to enlist into the service about five thousand (5,000) people. Considering the issue of high unemployment rate in the country with the limited number of job vacancies matching against the huge number of applicants; the application fees thereof set tongues wagging.
A section of the public questioned the moral proprietary of the four (4) agencies’ decision to bill the already frustrated teeming youth fees for the application process when in fact they receive budgetary allocations from the central government for their operations. In a jest, some people on social media tried to impute that the Gh¢100.00 being charged for the application vouchers will be applied towards the building of the National Cathedral. In another flip, others are calling on these Security Services to make a refund to those applicants who may not be successful after the end of the recruitment process. One may ask, should the status quo be maintained? What do you say?
In the spirit of accountability, it is not out of place for the public to seek clarification from the Security Services on such matters. In doing so, it is equally important to place the focal lenses on the activities of Private Employment Agencies operating in the labour market. Wait a minute! The Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) in Section 7(1) recognises the establishment of Private Employment Agencies and makes a provision on refundable fees. Meanwhile, Act 651 clearly exempts the Police Service, the Prisons Services, the Armed Forces and the Security and Intelligent Agencies from its SCOPE. In fact, a lot of same job seekers with the dominant group being fresh graduates who have completed national service seek jobs through these Private Employment Agencies.
To note, some (emphasis) of the Private Employment Agencies charge their applicants fees including application/registration forms with the attaching note that such payments are not guarantees or promises of job offer. As a result, job applicants who submit their Curriculum Vitae(CVs) with the fees to some of the Private Employment Agencies find themselves in a limbo after the application process. Clauses of that nature on the application forms have become a fertile ground for individuals with an alter ego intended to milk from the frustrations of unsuspecting job seekers to operate in that space.
Unlike the Security Services’ enlistments where part of the process is shown on national television and the public are able to appreciate the huge numbers, same cannot be said of the Private Employment Agencies for obvious reasons. Hence, you can imagine the number of job seekers who visit these offices individually to register for jobs daily and pay equivalent amounts without assurances of job offers.
Many job seekers’ ignorance of the legal provision has made matters worse. The Labour Act requires Private Employment Agencies to “refund fifty percent (50%) of the fees paid by a client to the agency, if the agency is unable to secure a job placement for the client after the expiration of three (3) months”. Many job seekers don’t seek a refund due to the conditions attached to the application process and even those who may be aware of the legal provision hardly do so. How many people will want to “pick a fight” with a system when in a dire need; and especially when such actions may even cause more resources? In order not to be seen as disrespectful to authority, job seekers often waive such rights but suffice to say that the right thing must be done to ensure fairness to all.
The Labour Act in Section 7(6) clearly states that “an agency shall submit to the Minister [in charge of Labour/Employment] NOT later than fourteen (14) days after the end of every three (3) months in respect of workers recruited for employment, whether in Ghana or outside Ghana, during that period.” In the same vein, Act 651 requires the Minister to revoke the licence of any agency that fails to comply with Section 7(6). To what extent is the level of compliance?
In order to arrest the exploitation of the bourgeoning youth and to sanitise operations of Private Employers Agencies, authorities need to ensure compliance with enabling legislations. Public education is much of the essence in these matters and the agencies under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations can do better in that direction. Let’s be informed and educated.
GERSHON is a Chartered Banker and a Corporate Backroom Strategist with diverse working experiences and expertise in Governance, Risk and Compliance in the financial services sector. He features in the Business & Finance Times as a Columnist with about 200 distinct articles (2017-2019). In the midst of the Banking Crisis, he was consulted and wrote the lead feature- “Calm after the Storm, the Future of Banking in Ghana.” A special Publication on the Banking Industry in 2019. Email:[email protected] Contact: +233 596 048 820