Should job seekers pay fees?
Four of Ghana’s top security agencies – the Police Service, the Immigration Service, the Fire Service and the Prisons Service, advertised their enlistment a couple of weeks ago.
It was widely reported that many thronged to the various locations. There were also reports that more than 100,000 applied to the Police Service alone, days before the expiration of the advertised period.
Each of the applicants was asked to pay GH¢100.00 for the application process. The Police Service indicated that it received the clearance to enlist about 5,000 people.
Considering the high unemployment rate in the country, with the limited number of job vacancies matched with the number of applicants, the application fees charged did not sit well with Ghanaians.
Do security agencies have any moral justification to charge already frustrated teeming youth application fees when, in fact, they receive budgetary allocation from the central government for their operations?
In keeping with 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 also focus attention on the activities of private employment agencies.
Section 7(1) of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) recognises the establishment of private employment agencies and makes provision on refundable fees.
It clearly exempts the Police Service, the Prisons Service, the Armed Forces and the Security and Intelligent Agencies from its scope.
Graduates, upon the completion of their education, seek jobs through these private employment agencies.
Some private employment agencies charge applicants fees, including fees for the registration of new job seekers with the caveat that such payments do not guarantee or are not promises of job offers.
Those seeking jobs thus find themselves stranded after the application process, with such private employment agencies taking the advantage to pillage unsuspecting job seekers.
Job seekers’ ignorance of the legal provision makes matters worse. The Labour Act requires private employment agencies to “refund 50 per cent of the fees paid by a client if the agency is unable to secure a job placement for the client after the expiration of three (3) months”. How many people would want to “pick a fight” with a system when in a dire need, particularly when such demands for refund may cause more dissipation of resources? Thus job seekers waive the right under the law.
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 14 days after the end of every three 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 burgeoning youth and to sanitise operations of private employers agencies, there is the need for compliance with the law.
Sensitisation is also needed and agencies under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) could do better in that regard.
Let’s be informed and educated.
The writer is a Chartered Banker.