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Employment Equity Amendment Bill Sent to NCOP

November 18, 2021

Parliament

The national assembly has given the green light to the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence.

The bill was tabled in parliament in July 2020.

The draft bill was published for comment in October 2018.

The explanatory summary was published in Government Gazette 43535.

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.

The portfolio committee on employment and labour called for comment on the bill at the end of 2020.

In a recent statement, the employment and labour department indicated that its Employment Equity Directorate is gearing itself for the implementation and enforcement of the new Employment Equity Act once the parliamentary processes are finalised.

The committee adopted the bill at the end of August 2021 with amendments.

The select committee on trade and industry, economic development, small business development, tourism, employment and labour will process the bill.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the department announced that it plans to “revamp its labour activation programme (LAP) to deepen its impact in job creation initiatives and help integrate the unemployed into the labour market”.

According to the department’s director-general, Thobile Lamati, the aim of the revamp is to shorten the response time and make an immediate impact.

Lamati declared that South Africa’s broad unemployment rate currently sitting at 42 percent was concerning and was too high by any standard.

He added that the local economy is not growing fast to absorb the “growing army of the unemployed”.

“Through this proposed LAP revamp we want a high degree of efficiency – no matter the model. The focus is not institutional arrangement nor the structure. Our focus should be how best we make the programme highly efficient. The structure is not an overriding factor”, he said.