SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES IN THE PIPELINE FOR DESIGNATED EMPLOYERS REGARDING EMPLOYMENT EQUITY

The latest version of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, 2020, was published on 20 July 2020 which version is now headed to Parliament.

The Bill seeks to amend a number of provisions in respect of the Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998 (“EEA”).

Certain of the proposed amendments include:

  • The removal of the requirement that employers with less than 50 employees, comply with chapter III of the EEA relating to the application of affirmative action and the dispensing of any requirement to register on account of exceeding an annual turnover amount;
  • The introduction of numerical targets to be implemented in line with the sectoral targets set by the Minister for national economic sectors, so as to ensure equitable representation of suitably qualified groups at all occupational levels in the workforce. It is contemplated that different targets may be set at different occupational levels, sub-sectors, regions or other relevant factors;
  • The requirement that an employer’s employment equity plan address the numerical targets referred to above;
  • The empowerment of labour inspectors to secure a written undertaking from a ‘designated employer’ regarding the preparation of employment equity plans; and
  • The requirement that a certificate be issued to employers, confirming their compliance with the provisions of the EEA, as a prerequisite for contracting with the State. Note that this requires an amendment to section 53 of the EEA, which section is yet to become operative.

The changes are part of the ANC’s vision whereby the economy reflects the demographics of society in line with racial percentages determined as to 78.8% for Blacks, 9,6% for Coloureds, 9% for Whites and 2,6% for Indians.

The retention of racial demographic criteria negatively impacts upon traditional ‘’best candidate’’ selection criteria such as skills and attitude irrespective of the candidate’s race. It also potentially hampers the further considerations relating to women and disabled advancement in the workplace.

The Minister of Labour is required to consult the Employment Equity Commission regarding the sectors and targets he intends introducing.

A concern is that such bodies have comprised persons chosen in line with political affinity with the ruling party.

An employer will be required to secure a Certificate of Compliance which will prove difficult where the employer has not met the sectoral requirements. It is a given that employers who cannot obtain such Certificate will have little prospect of performing work for the State.

The challenges of running a business with no growth attributable to the lack of Government direction during the so-called 9 wasted Zuma years coupled with Covid-19 will now additionally require employers to not only focus on staying on course and preserving jobs but changing their employee profiles to meet the targets.

Author: Guy Dakin

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