Identifying labour inspectors

Ensuring compliance with labour law is crucial for both employers and employees to foster fair and equitable working conditions. In South Africa, the Department of Employment and Labour achieves this sentiment through their Inspection and Enforcement Service (IES). The Department’s inspectors play a pivotal role in monitoring and enforcing labour legislation and regulations.


Many employers are concerned about security due to people falsely posing as inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour in order to gain access to the premises.  Insist on positive identification of the person who introduces him-/herself as an inspector and first verify the information before giving the person access to your premises.  Also remember that no inspector may charge a fee for the inspection, investigation, advice or any assistance.  The Department of Employment and Labour does not delegate any third party to conduct an inspection on behalf of the Department – none of the Department’s powers may therefore be delegated.  No inspector may sell posters, products, or information.

Key aspects of identification for labour inspectors

The Department of Employment and Labour inspectors will always carry official identification:


  • Official appointment certificate: In terms of Chapter 10 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 75 of 1997 (BCEA), Section 63(3) provides that the Minister of Employment and Labour must provide each labour inspector with a signed appointment certificate stating the following: 
    • that the person has been appointed as a labour inspector,
    • the inspector’s name, serial number, identification number, signature, and the Department’s logo,
    • which legislation that labour inspector may monitor and enforce, and
    • which of the functions of a labour inspector that person may perform.


  • Obligation to produce identification: The BCEA creates a further obligation on labour inspectors to produce his/her official appointment certificate upon request. Section 66(3)(a) states that labour inspectors must produce the certificate when he/she is requested to do so.


  • Two forms of identification: The inspector’s appointment certificate can take two forms, the one being a certificate document (BCEA Annexure 14A) and the other being an inspector card (BCEA Annexure 14B).  It is noteworthy that in terms of Annexure 14A the inspector’s card (Annexure 14B) must contain the inspector’s photo and signature, as well as the signature of the provincial executive manager, for the office in which the inspector is based as well as the serial number which has been allocated to the inspector by the Department’s head office.




Labour inspectors’ right to conduct inspections

In terms of BCEA Section 65(1) a labour inspector may, without warrant or notice, at any reasonable time, enter any workplace or any other place where an employer carries on business or keeps employment records, that is not a home, in order to enforce compliance with labour law.


Labour law further places a duty on persons to co-operate with and assist labour inspectors. Section 67(1) and 67(2) of the BCEA states that any person who is questioned by a labour inspector in terms of Section 66 must answer all relevant questions lawfully put to that person, truthfully and to the best of his/her ability.  Employers and employees must provide any facility and assistance at a workplace that is reasonably required by a labour inspector to perform the labour inspector’s functions effectively.


  • Scheduled inspections: Labour inspectors often conduct scheduled inspections, providing advance notice to employers. This allows businesses to prepare necessary documentation, such as employment contracts, payroll records, and health and safety protocols. Being aware of scheduled inspections helps in maintaining transparency and efficiency.


  • Random visits: In addition to scheduled inspections, inspectors may also conduct unannounced or random visits to workplaces. Employers should be prepared for such surprise visits and maintain ongoing compliance with labour laws to avoid potential penalties.

A labour inspector is empowered by legislation to arrive at a workplace with or without notice to conduct an inspection. The employer is similarly obligated to answer any questions put to him/her by the labour inspector and to provide the inspector with any assistance that he/she may require to perform his/her functions effectively.  South African labour legislation is extensive and non-negotiable.  Non-compliance can have a serious financial impact, putting your business at unnecessary risk.

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