These key representatives sharpened their focus as the warm winter sun shone over the lawns of the Bryanston Country Club, where the conference took place. All of them taking in the enjoyment of what was, for many of the delegates, the first in person meeting since the pandemic restriction were implemented.
A consensus emerged among those in attendance: The pandemic has opened the door for significant shifts in global mobility, and organisations must now look at new and innovative solutions, collaborative efforts between organisations and providers, harnessing technology and the importance of employee experience to keep pace with these shifts.
Overview And Key Takeaways
The conference was facilitated by a familiar face, Jeremy Maggs, who spurred debate amongst the speakers and delegates. It started when Ben Makhalemele, who serves as the Assistant Director of Corporate Accounts for the Department of Home Affairs, took the stage for the Keynote presentation of the morning.
Mr. Makhalemele begun by emphasising the importance of security for the Department and quickly turned to the centralised adjudication system which became one of the most topical points of discussion for the day. He opened the floor and invited questions and debate early on, giving sobering yet hard-hitting answers to an engaged audience.
He highlighted the challenge of only 6 adjudicators currently assisting with pending visa applications, which is the catalyst of the very real issue of large volume backlogs and overdue applications. Business strongly argued the impact of the delays and need for solutions while Mr Makhalemele proactively engaged and satisfied the attendees with practical escalation measures leaving HR and mobility professionals with a sense of relief.
Mr. Makhalemele was followed by SAIT’s Chief Executive Officer, Keith Engel who addressed the new Critical Skills list, the inclusion of tax professionals and the role of professional bodies in the process highlighting SAIT’s approach.
Sonwabo Sibayi from the South African High Commission in London focused on the new centralised adjudication system from the perspective of the High Commission and what applicant’s can expect going forward.
Jerry Botha, Managing Partner of Tax Consulting South Africa and principal author of the Lexis Nexis textbook on Expatriate Tax, unpacked the seven laws of remote working that will assist business in determining their tax responsibilities. These rules included corporate presence; tax presence, labour presence; PAYE and social security; right to work, personal financial planning and consideration of the practicality of employing resources abroad. Jerry then went on to provide a three-bucket solution that companies should consider when hiring remote workers.
After lunch, Levi Schooling, Expatriate Solutions Professional with Xpatweb offered some clarification on the comprehensive nature of SAQA’s mandate and services. He then went on to describe their large restructuring initiative, which resulted in a reduction of employees from over 100 to just 30, with just 8 of those staff members assigned to foreign qualifications. A stunned audience listened intently as Levi unpacked current delays from the Regulator and practical steps for employers to follow on evaluations submitted.
The rest of the day saw a presentation by Tanya Tosen, a Master Mobility Specialist at Tax Consulting South Africa who spoke about the most cutting-edge approaches to global mobility. Followed by a panel discussion which included top mobility professionals Nanda Scott, Group Chief Human Capital Officer from Inq; Menushka van der Westhuizen, Head of HR at Saint Gobain and Shargani Pillay, Remuneration and Benefits Manager at JTI facilitated by Jeremy Maggs. The discussion brought to light mobility challenges organisations faced during the pandemic and how different organisations have implemented an array of solutions.
Marisa Jacobs, Managing Director at Xpatweb closed the session introducing delegates to Xpatweb’s online immigration system, which enables businesses to monitor their whole expatriate population in once central place for an end-to-end view, streamlined compiling and smart reporting.
The event successfully spurred on debate about the need for business to collaborate with relevant Government Department to best facilitate global mobility; best practices to consider when seeking out skilled workers abroad; how to promote and maintain productivity when employees are working remotely and what technologies can be utilised to best support remote working and mobility.
For assistance with any delays you are experiencing with the processing of your visa applications, please reach out to us and we will provide the necessary guidance.