Alexander Forbes dragged to Labour Court
Global insurance broker, Alexander Forbes, has been dragged to the Labour Court over alleged unfair labour practices.
A group of employees, who were recruited in March this year, are complaining of a hostile working environment and being hired under false pretences.
This comes after they signed contracts that state that they would be working as business development consultants, but they are now being forced to work as insurance brokers.
One of the workers, who refused to be named for fear of being victimised, said that initially, the reputable company told them that their main duties would be to assist members from allocated funds with their retirements, resignations and dismissals, with financial advice comprising 90 percent of their responsibilities.
They were told that this would keep them so busy that they would not have time for any other business activities, such as life covers, which they would only have to do if the members they were dealing with requested them to do so.
They were also supposed to earn a fixed salary and no commission.
According to the employee, this all changed when they started working, and they were told that they would have to go out and source clients and sell policies, which is something they had not trained for.
The employee claimed that this was because the company had realised that the newly established Business Development Consultants Department was not meeting its monthly target.
Supervisors in that department started carrying out weekly appraisals, rating individuals and threatening to dismiss them if they did not meet their targets.
The general description of duties, as worded in the vacancy advert that the company placed in newspapers, shows that the various candidates would have to advise both internal and external clients on their short and long-term insurance needs.
The advert said that they would also be required to assist with financial planning goals, through a range of products and services offered in-house and through external partners, among other duties that do not entail selling insurance.
Some of the employees have since resigned, while others are still waiting to hear from the Labour Commissioner, who is still to pronounce himself on the matter.
The complaint was lodged last month.
“The conditions have now changed and we now have to generate 90 percent of our target from writing policies. If I had known that circumstances would change like this, I would not have accepted the offer,” said one complainant.
Some of the employees resigned from their jobs at reputable companies, such as Old Mutual, Standard Bank and Stanfin.
The team has been put on constant poor performance appraisals, which has led some of them to suffer from stress related health problems.
Alexander Forbes has since re-advertised the posts of those who have resigned.
The new advertisement shows that the company has now completely changed the wording of the posts, which now states that they are looking for financial planning consultants.
The employees feel that the company did not plan properly, before starting the Business Development Consultants Department, and they are suffering for it.Alexander Forbes Manager, Jan Coetzee, said that unfortunately the company is unable to comment, as the issue is an internal matter.
He, however, said that Alexander Forbes is committed to upholding the highest standards, and this includes reprimanding employees for poor performance.