Twenty-two years later businesses are still struggling to comply with the framework outlined in the Employment Equity Act (EEA), especially when considering gender parity, says Teboho Motsoane, Skills Development and Employment Equity Specialist of Strata-g Labour Solutions.
“There are more women of working age than their male counterparts, yet women only make up 26,4% of top management positions. But even where women have a semblance of representation, they are still earning less than their male colleagues for doing the same job. This is a huge concern because it means employers are either flouting the law or are incapable of addressing employment equity in their workspaces,” explains Motsoane.
Echoing the findings of the 20th Commission for Employment Equity Annual (CEEA) report, Motsoane says while the labour law landscape is continuously changing, these changes are not reflected in organisation’s and their management hierarchy.
The report which looked at a three-year trend from 2017 to 2019 also showed that the White and Indian Population groups generally remain over-represented against their national Economically Active Population (EAP), whereas the African and Coloured Population Groups remained well below their respective EAPs at the top management level.
According to the CEEA report, Africans account for 78,9% of the national economically active population (EAP), Coloureds account for 9,7% of the EAP, Indians make up 2,7% and Whites account for 8,7%. White people occupied 65,6% of top management positions, while Indians constituted 10,3% and the Coloured group notched 5,6%, with Africans representing 15,2%.
Progress has also been slow for persons living with a disability, with analysis over the period indicating that the representation of Persons with Disabilities in each occupational level remained constant and no higher than 1%.
Motsoane attributes this slow transformation to organisations’ inability to fathom and execute their employment equity plans and transformation goals.
“Keeping track of employment equity plans can also be a challenge, especially with COVID-19 having upended so many businesses. But even diligent businesses without the assistance of professionals may find themselves on the wrong side of the law,” says Motsoane.
The government will be elimating the burden on small organisations and cracking down on larger non-complying businesses with the Department of Employment and Labour having gazetted the Employment Equity Amendment Bill of 2019, which was approved in February 2020 by Cabinet for tabling to Parliament.
The Bill excludes employers who have a staff complement of fewer than 50 employees from Chapter Three or the implementation of Affirmative Action in the EEA. But all employers are obligated to comply with Chapter 2 of the Act or the prohibition of unfair discrimination in the workplace and to promulgate Section 53 of the EEA to allow for the issuing of an Employment Equity Certificate of Compliance.
“Should the Bill pass into law, Labour Inspectors and the Mister of Labour will have more powers and entities found to violate the law will receive a fine of R1,5 million or 2% of the company’s annual turnover. Companies that conduct business with the state will also be denied their Employment Equity Certificate of Compliance, which will form part of the pre-requisite to accessing government contracts,” explains Motsoane.
Motsoane says businesses should not feel intimidated by government’s resolution to enforce compliance.
“Employment equity is more than a tick box exercise, it’s a law aimed at rectifying the various discrepancies that exist in the workplace. According to the CEEA report, if left unattended, it would take 180 years to bridge the inequality between men and women in the workplace. Employers, therefore, rather than seeing this as a threat to their businesses, should seize the opportunity it presents in making their organisations more equitable, diverse and inclusive,” concludes Motsoane.
Issued by Shannon Henning of PR Worx – [email protected] / 066 366 1662
On behalf of Teboho Motsoane from Strata-G Labour Solutions