Law: The sexual offences bill: what employers need to know
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In terms of the provisions of the bill certain employers, particularly those that are involved in businesses that have dealings with children or people with mental disabilities, will have to follow certain procedures when employing new staff members to ensure that they do not fall foul of the law.
A sexual offenders’ register is to be established and maintained by the state. This will contain the details of those persons that have been convicted of sexual offences against minors or people with mental disabilities.
The sexual offences bill prohibits any person that has been convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a mentally disabled person from working in an organization that deals with these categories of people.
The bill further prescribes that an employer whose organization deals with the protected categories of people, must apply for a certificate stating whether a person's details have been recorded on the register if that person has applied for a job with the organization. An employer is expected to apply for a certificate in terms of the act before any confirmation of the appointment can be made.
The bill states that an employer is not permitted to continue to employ a person whose details are recorded in the register if they will have contact with a child or a person with mental disabilities. If it is possible for the employer to move the employee to a position where no contact with the designated persons will occur then this step must be taken, however, if it is not possible then employment must be terminated.
Employers that fail to comply with the act are guilty of an offence and liable for a fine or imprisonment or both. However, employers are reminded that they will need to follow fair procedure in the event of a termination and may not summarily dismiss an employee without following the provisions of the labour relations act.
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