Conversations about Gold

This is Gold is about bringing the industry to life. In this section we feature Conversations about Gold – which highlights key discussions about the industry, People of Gold – which introduces some of the most vibrant and interesting people in the industry, and Places of Gold – which shows the mines that keep the industry going.

Changing spending habits key to financial wellness: Gold Fields’ lays the foundation to help employees deal with debt

South Africans from all income groups and across all industries are finding themselves in financial trouble. The rising cost of living, increased family obligations and the challenges of finding and holding on to employment has meant many more people are struggling under the burden of debt.

“An internal audit shows there are currently 150 employees at South Deep, or 4.6% of South Deep’s workforce, who have a total of 232 garnishees against their names while 2% of the operation’s employees have maintenance orders that come off their salaries,” says South Deep’s Remuneration Manager Shiraz Essakjee.

Gold Fields has appointed Summit Financial Partners to audit emolument attachment orders made against the salaries of employees. Having taken over the administration of garnishee and emolument attachment orders from September 2014, Summit will ensure that each deduction made from an employee’s salary is legal and for the correct amounts. Through Summit, Gold Fields makes available a financial wellness website and a dedicated call-centre to assist employees with queries related to salary deductions by third parties.

With regards to financial wellness, Gold Fields has contracted a company called Edutouch to do the training.  “Edutouch’s first few sessions were very well received by management, employees and the unions,” says Shiraz.

The initial plan called for a train-the-trainer approach, where six South Deep employees would be trained in financial wellness before rolling the programme out to the rest of the workforce. Since then, however, Edutouch has received additional funding from the National Credit Regulator and will now be rolling out this training to 2,500 Gold Fields’ employees. This is likely to commence in either October or November. The gold producer only expects to see the results of the programme to feed through in a year’s time when the training has been completed.  

“Financial behavior is not easy to change overnight. Hopefully, the benefits of getting to a situation where debt levels are manageable and getting loans from registered and reputable financial institutions will encourage employees to change their habits,” says Shiraz.