Keeping bosses' hands off pensions
It's tough to police companies' theft of workers' savings — but not impossible
The theft of employees' retirement fund contributions to bankroll businesses is rife in South Africa, to the detriment of thousands of workers who are often oblivious to the crime that threatens their income security in later years. The problem - which is keeping the financial sector regulator awake at night - has also overburdened and infuriated the pension funds adjudicator and has many pension lawyers hot under the collar. But workers are the biggest losers - their anger and frustration bubbling over in incidents like one recently when 40 retrenched OR Tambo International Airport security guards held staff at Reshebile Aviation and Protection Services hostage, demanding that a reported R1.2-million in arrears contributions be paid. Despite legislative changes more than four years ago making it a criminal offence for employers to withhold contributions they are obliged to pay, successful prosecutions are rare.
The amended legislation also gives retirement funds the duty to h...