The changing Employment Equity landscape

Date: 2 September 2019

The Employment Equity landscape is starting to look a little more onerous than in previous years, and that just might be the understatement of the year. With the Department Labour under-going many major changes, starting with the Employment Equity Amendment Bill October 2018, swiftly followed by the replacing of not only the Department of Labour’s Minister Oliphant, by Minister Nxesi but also the subsequent Department of Labour name change, to “The Department of Labour and Employment”. Last month, August 2019, further evidence of the intended intensification of analysis of Employment Equity came with the publishing of the new-look EEA4 which will allow for a more penetrating analysis of income differentials. 2019 has so far seen a definite make-over for employers and specifically those who are designated.

With the intended removal of the Schedule 4, the definition of who qualifies as a designated employer is also adjusted, meaning the companies with fewer than 50 employee’s but with a previously qualifying turn-over’s for their industry, may no longer have to report for Employment Equity, however must remain diligent of the fact that for the purposes of BBBEE they will still need to submit their EEA2 and EEA4 to the Department in order to receive their certificate of submission for verification purposes.

No guarantees

Employers are urged to note that no longer will they receive an automated acknowledgement of submission email as in previous year. It is the intention that the Employment Equity reports first be assessed for accuracy by the Commission for Employment Equity and only on their approval that reports are correct, will certificates be provided.

With the Amendment Bill lurking and Employment Equity reporting season soon upon us, it is not known when exactly these amendments will become effective. So now would be the time for proactive designated employers to take heed of these amendments and of how they will potentially affect their businesses.

With the Department accusing South African employers of a severe lack of commitment to transformation, evident in setting of low levels of target and goals for the recruitment, promotion, training of, and succession planning for previously disadvantaged individuals, employers can expect to have less control over these aspects of their business as the government up’s their game.

Designated employers can expect to receive what could be debilitating fines for non-compliance to government-prescribed targets for sectoral and other sub-sectors of their industry, as the CEE sees fit to define.

Suggestions for Designated Employer

Know where you stand. Re-assess your workforce profile in comparison to national, regional, sectoral and other sub-sectors for a reality-check on the state of representation within your company.

Be realistic. Align your Employment Equity plan with your business plan and vice versa. If your business doesn’t identify Employment Equity as a major goal and your senior and line managers are not being held to targets as part of their KPI’s, prepare for large fines.

Take practical steps towards implementing practices that will promote the recruitment and promotion of designated employees across ALL levels of your business.

Awareness is everything. Communicate with your employees about Employment Equity, where it is relevant in the business and why it is important.

Be transparent. Stop hiding the facts from your Employment Equity Committee as they are an important part of the process. Employment Equity inspectors know when you are faking it to make it by simply asking a committee member a few key questions. Non-transparency is easily exposed.

Stop making excuses and find ways to train and develop the skills of key role players in your business for the purpose of succession planning which will support the goal of transformation.

Do the right thing. Any non-compliance pertaining to discrimination in the workplace which land you at the door of the CCMA, will score against you come reporting time which is particularly important for those who need to tender. If your business relies on a scorecard, it come down to practicing what the government preaches.

~ Andrea Wheatley ~