On 12 April 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Employment Equity Amendment Bill of 2020 (“the Bill’) into law, thus amending the Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998 (“the EEA”) with new measures to promote diversity and equality in the workplace
In essence, the Bill seeks to advance transformation of South Africa’s workforce by setting equity targets for economic sectors and geographical regions, and requiring entities to develop transformation plans.
The Bill empowers the Minister of Employment and Labour to (1) set employment equity targets for economic sectors, as well as regions where transformation has been slow; (2) regulate compliance criteria to issue Compliance Certificates in accordance with Section 53 of the EEA; and (3) set regional targets given the racial diversity existing within the 9 provinces of South Africa.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?
Historically, both (1) employers with more than 50 employees and (2) employers with less than 50 employees but having an annual turnover in excess of the threshold amounts set out in Schedule 4 to the EEA, were required to submit their employment equity plans to the Department of Employment and Labour (“the Department”). The Bill has done away with the requirement of a turnover threshold and now requires only employers with more than 50 employees to submit employment equity plans for their companies to the Department, detailing how they plan to achieve the targets set out therein. Thereafter, employers will be required to submit annual reports to the Department setting out their progress in meeting the targets set out in their employment equity plan, which targets may be sector specific if determined by the Minister of Employment and Labour.
In respect of remuneration, employers will be required adhere to the principle of “equal pay for equal work.” The Bill further sets out clear definitions of discrimination as well as the remedies available to employees facing discrimination.
Lastly, entities seeking to conduct business with the State will be required to submit a Compliance Certificate from the Department confirming that such entity is in compliance with the EEA and its objectives, and that such entity does not remunerate its employees below the national minimum wage (R25,42 per hour effective 1 March 2023).
In an effort to ensure compliance with the EEA, labour inspectors will now be compelled to inspect workplaces and to issue employers with compliance orders. To this end, the Department has committed to increase the number of labour inspectors and health and safety inspectors who will enforce compliance.