The male-led Competition Commission fails to meaningfully acknowledge workers as critical market stakeholders and grasp what effective Competition Act compliance in labour markets is.

Lack of Labour Market Competition can Drive Women’s Wages Down

The Competition Commission’s poor performance shelters labour market inequality in South Africa as they do not ensure that employers compete fairly for talent.

When Black women submit their pay slips to employers during recruitment, inevitable patterns of low pay and market subservience are entrenched. Demanding payslips when recruiting violates human rights as it strips away the right to fairly negotiate pay and not be price-fixed like slaves.

Women Robbed of fair treatment

Women have a tougher time finding work than men.

STATSSA reported that 47,0% of South African women, that’s nearly half! were recorded as economically inactive in 2022.

Women are most likely to be unemployed and underpaid when employed.

Underpayment is deeply dehumanising for anyone. Underpayment results in unfair financial losses and restricts equal rights to economic success.

While the Constitution dictates labour market fairness, there are no specific protections for recruitment and wage negotiation which makes all workers susceptible to wage discrimination and wage theft.

Truworths said ‘advertising employment opportunities without a salary range is not an unusual practice in South Africa’ however they and other firms are ignoring the emerging legal trends worldwide.

As of 1 November, 2022 New York City fines employers when they advertise vacancies without a pay range. The New York City Human Rights Commission enforces this. Trevor Noah is lucky his Foundation is not based there as when he recruits in South Africa, he adopts pay secrecy!!! Job advert pay secrecy is grudgingly accepted as a norm by jobseekers but widely regarded as unfair in South Africa. Take our Pay Secrecy poll and have your say!

Some people are not that fussed by the lack of pay transparency as they are strong negotiators and won’t give in to an unfair situation. However, it can mean their time is wasted as if you’re asked to provide the information and refuse, you may not have an opportunity to participate further. Recruiters get paid for meeting quotas, just calling you is already money for them. As opposed to applying to a recruiter, perhaps register with an agency that will represent your interests fairly in the job market.

Wage price-fixing is anti-competition

Many application forms ask jobseekers to submit their payslips. This means job seekers apply for jobs without knowing the pay and must send competition-sensitive data to an employer who isn’t upfront. Does this sound like an imbalance of power to you too? Two questions rise up, first is do all employers agree to share their compensation information and thereby agree to not compete for talent? Are employers using pay slips to establish or ‘fix’ job applicant wages?

Employers make it compulsory for job applicants to submit rival employer pay slips. The South African Board for People’s Practices sides with discrimination when claiming employers sharing each other’s pay slips is a legitimate practice.

When employers share competition-sensitive pay slips, it means they don’t compete for talent but limit opportunity by conspiring on wages. Employers are specifically prohibited from market collusion and anticompetitive practices by the Competition Act.

Until the flock of Competition Commission cocks recognise the labour market as a real construct to include in their analysis and policy documents, this practice will continue to entrench unfair pay patterns in South Africa and harm women and Black people the most. This is contemptible.

Infographic: 6 Ways Recruitment is Anti-competition

ways recruitment is unlawful
Fair competition


leonie hall

Leave a Reply