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DEL Shines Light on Employment Equity Act Compliance

June 27, 2022

Department of Employment and Labour

Compliance levels with the Employment Equity Act remain low.

In a statement on the official launch of the 22nd Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) Annual Report, the employment and labour minister, Thulas Nxesi, declared that the “time has now come to get hard on non-compliance”.

According to the CEE chairperson, Tabea Kabinde, it is a matter of urgency that the Employment Equity Amendment Bill be assented into law.

Parliament gave the green light to the bill in May 2022.

The bill was tabled in parliament in July 2020.

The bill aims to amend the Employment Equity Act, 1998, so as to:

• amend a definition;
• insert certain definitions, to substitute a definition and to delete a definition;
• provide for the Minister to identify sectoral numerical targets in order to ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups;
• provide criteria for the Minister to issue certificates; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The proposed legislation will empower the labour minister to determine sectoral numerical targets in order to ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups (blacks, women and persons with disabilities) at all occupational levels in the workforce.

It also seeks to enhance the administration of the act including the implementation of section 53 that provides for the issuing of a certificate by the minister confirming an employer’s compliance with Chapter II, or Chapters II and III, of the act, as the case may be, in relation to the conclusion of State Contracts.

The bill also aims to remove the requirement for psychological testing and similar assessments of employees to be certified by the Health Professions Council of South Africa and to remove a provision empowering non-designated employers to notify the Director-General of the labour department that they intend to voluntarily comply with Chapter III of the act as if they were a designated employer.

At the launch, Nxesi noted with concern the “continued and flourishing slave conditions in the labour market, wherein the immigrants were being exploited, saying ‘we seem to be going back to slave conditions in this country’”.

Meanwhile, in another statement on the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 pandemic protocols, the minister cautioned that the lifting of the protocols does not mean employers must “adopt a cavalier attitude towards health and safety in their workplaces”.

“The health and safety of workers remain a priority for our labour market. The Code of Practice on the Management of Exposure to Sars-Cov-2 in the Workplace remains the guiding principle on matters of health and safety in the workplace and is still the responsibility of all leaders to design an inclusive environment that promotes safety and makes workers comfortable in the workplace,” he said.