The agricultural labour force plays a critical role in the success and productivity of South African agriculture. Although local agricultural role-players are often criticised for their dealings and relations with workers, South African farmers certainly realise the value of their workforce.
There is also no doubt that every farmer or other agricultural employer wants the best for their employees. Making ‘the best’ a reality technically, is however often easier said than done. The need exists to make use of a platform that understands the sector’s unique challenges, when considering providing for employees.
For the past 25 years, the Agricultural Sector Provident Fund (ASPF) – in collaboration with Agri SA, the TAU SA and Absa – has been offering farmers a simple way in which to give their workers what they are due. The establishment of the ASPF, says Basie van der Merwe, chief officer of the fund, arose from the need for employers to take care of their employees in a fitting way.
“The aim is to make provision for the needs of the workforce, especially in the more traditional setup where employees who have worked on a farm for years, also live there, retire and pass away on the land.” The fund is specifically aimed at employers and employees in the agricultural sector. What is important to bear in mind, says Van der Merwe, is that it is not just for farmworkers, but for any employee in the broad agricultural sector throughout the value chain.
It is for any agriculture-related employees and their employers for which the ASPF can provide peace of mind. “The main advantage of the fund is that it can give peace of mind to the employer as well as the employee. The employer can be rest assured that he meets all the legal and social requirements for the care of his workforce, and the employee knows that his needs will be met.”
Unique and comprehensive
The fund provides a one-stop solution to provide for retirement, end-of-service, death- and funeral benefits, with a single monthly contribution covering all benefits. This one-stop solution is extremely flexible, but still simple enough to ease administration and limit costs.
Van der Merwe explains that the fund consists of several plans, each offering a unique advantage. “I think the fact that the employer and employee can sit together and choose which plan is best suited to their situation, makes the fund very unique. Each member can select a plan that meets their business’s unique needs.”
Another advantage is that the fund has been compiled in such a way that the retirement, end-of-service, death and funeral benefits are offered together with a savings component based on the gross contributions made for each member. “It is important to note is that the accumulated fund value of members can be transferred if the employee continues to belong to the fund under another employer.”
The value of the fund, he explains, further lies in its good track record with regard to the payment of claims and handling of information, as well as its focus on service excellence. “I believe after-sales service is a key distinction between a good and bad service provider. Therefore, the continual support and good service offered to members of the fund is, in my opinion, one of the main points distinguishing the ASPF from other products.” Prompt handling of claims is very important, and the ASPF takes pride in the fact that 98% of claims are paid out within 24 hours.
A key tool in respect of good service delivery is the fund’s interactive website, where important information is made accessible to members. “We particularly wanted to develop a website that is interactive, where employers or workers can immediately access any forms or relevant information. This makes it very easy for the employer and employee to make use of the fund.”
It is advisable to keep in mind that precautions for the future gives peace of mind for employers and employees alike, and is something that certainly cannot be neglected. The ASPF makes it easy for the producer to ensure peace of mind for himself and his employees. -Marike Brits, Farmbiz
For more information visit www.aspf.co.za or contact Basie van der Merwe, per SMS at 082 766 4584.