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According to a new survey released by the Department of Labour, corporate South Africa is amongst the most potty-mouthed in the world. The Minister of Labour, Neliswa Oliphant, is up in arms about the explicit language used in the workplace. The findings of the survey show that a shocking 72% of South Africans are more than comfortable cussing at work and deem it as part of their everyday language, while a further 18% of South African employees say that they are happiest when they are able to express themselves using choice expletives.

Chanel Koopman, a spokesperson for the minister says, “The results of the survey are not that surprising as we’ve found that bad language is becoming very prevalent in business. The survey results also indicate that a more informal approach to the workplace is on the rise – perhaps contributing to a culture of ‘colourful’ dialogue.”

“We have therefore decided to pass a landmark piece of legislation. As of 01 July 2011, swearing in the workplace will be regarded as a serious offence, and repeat offenders could ultimately be dismissed. The severity of the offence will mean that employers will not have to go through a very lengthy disciplinary process before employees can be dismissed.”

The first company to endorse this is Careers24 who have already started implementing these changes. Says Tim Gregory, General Manager of Careers24, “As a company specialising in online recruitment and job listings, we wanted to be sure we set the example for corporate South Africa. Already we have seen significant changes in the level of professionalism employees bring to the business.” Gregory adds, “I must say it’s brought quite a positive energy too.”

As part of the implementation of the new Act, the Department of Labour has decided to launch a ‘Clean Up Your Language Act’ campaign and will be asking CEOs, HR Managers and business owners to embark on an aggressive campaign to clean up bad language before the Act comes into effect on 01 July 2011.

On a final note, Gregory adds, “Employees will know that it’s time for a change when they are so unhappy at work that they resort to swearing out of frustration. It’s best they start looking for a job before it gets to that point.”

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