Simply defined, employment equity (EE) is the use of hiring policies that encourage fair representation of members of minority groups, women, or other people who suffer discrimination.
NB: Important Information Concerning Employment Equity In Cape Town Emphasized:
What is a Designated Employer?
A designated employer means an employer who employs 50 or more employees or has a total annual turnover as reflected in Schedule 4 of the Act, municipalities, and organs of state. Employers can also volunteer to become designated employers.
Obligations of a Designated Employer?
A designated employer must implement affirmative action measures for designated groups to achieve employment equity.
In order to implement affirmative action measures, a designated employer must:
- consult with employees
- conduct an analysis
- prepare an employment equity plan
- report to the Director-General on progress made in the implementation of the plan.
What Are Designated Groups?
A designated group means black people, women, or people with disabilities.
What Is Affirmative Action?
Affirmative action measures are measures intended to ensure that suitably qualified employees from designated groups have equal employment opportunity and are equitably represented in all occupational categories and levels of the workforce.
Such measures must include:
- identification and elimination of barriers with an adverse impact on designated groups;
- measures which promote diversity;
- making reasonable accommodation for people from designated groups;
- retention, development, and training of designated groups (including skills development)
- preferential treatment and numerical goals to ensure equitable representation. This excludes quotas.
Designated employers are not required to take any decision regarding an employment policy or practice that would establish an absolute barrier to prospective or continued employment or advancement of people not from designated groups.
Employment Equity Act
Due to South Africa’s history of discrimination against gender, race, and disability, the Employment Equity Act was created to address this issue. The Act seeks to eliminate unfair discrimination and to promote the use of affirmative action measures. The two main purposes of the Act is to:
- Ensure that all workplaces are free of discrimination
- Ensure that affirmative action measures are implemented to ensure that suitably qualified people from designated groups have equal employment opportunities and are equitably represented in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce of a designated employer.
All employers are required to follow the Employment Equity Act and specifically make sure their employees receive equal pay for equal work. Only designated employers, however, are required to perform an analysis of their workforce and submit annual submissions to the Department of Labor. Read the summary of the Act for further information.
The Department of Labor says the Employment Equity (EE) Amendment Bill and Regulations is pushed for the establishment of sectoral targets to enable employers to transform workplaces. They proposed for the establishment of 18 sectors as per the classifications published by Statistics South Africa.
Shortly after this proposal, the sector targets were published in the Government Gazette for public comment. The department has published the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and the Draft Employment Equity Regulations in the Government Gazette in response to the slow pace of transformation in the workplaces.
Key Objectives of the EE Amendments
- Introduction of provisions and regulatory requirements for the promulgation of Section 53 to ensure employers financially benefiting from State contracts comply with the EE Act.
- To bring alignment between definitions, policy provisions, and the administration systems and enhancing on the collection of data for the National Minimum Wage Commission
- Introduction of provisions in the EE Amendment Bill and regulations for the consultation and set of numerically based sector targets across various occupational levels to ensure an equitably represented workforce
- To make reporting requirements easier for designated employers who are small employers
Employment Equity Compliance Certificate
Following an amendment made by the Department of Labor, employers who implement employment equity (EE) within their organization will now be issued with a compliance certificate is valid for 12 months subject to the fulfillment of specific conditions.
Certain conditions have been highlighted for both big employers/ designated employers and small/non-designated employers. The head of the Department of Labor Employment Equity, Deputy Director Masilo Lefika stipulates that these certificates will only be issued if employers fulfill these specified conditions.
These conditions emerged on Wednesday 10th October during the Department of Labor’s roadshow on the national public hearings on the EE Amendment Bill & Regulations that was held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban.
a) Big Employers/Designated Employers
In terms of Section 53, the certificate of compliance will be issued to big employers/designated employers if they:
- Meet any Section 15A sectoral targets that apply to them, or provide reasonable legislation grounds that justify their failure to comply
- The CCMA or any court find them free of any breaches on the prohibition of unfair discrimination or found not guilty of failure to pay the national minimum wage as per the law within the previous twelve months
- Submitted a report in relation to Section 21
- Comply with Chapter II discussing the prohibition of unfair discrimination
b) Small Employers/Non-designated Employers
In terms of Section 53, small/non-designated employers will be issued a certificate of compliance only if they comply with:
- Chapter II discussing the prohibition of unfair discrimination
- The National Minimum Wage Act, 2017
During the hearings, Lefika mentioned that upon a going through a progress review of the Employment Equity Act, they noticed that since it was enacted in 1998, its progress has been moving at a snail’s pace. “It is clear that there is no transformation in the workplaces. We do acknowledge, however, that there are pockets of excellence demonstrated by other employers when it comes to implementing transformation in the labor market,” he said.