Revised employment equity legislation could open up govt business
It may be the last quarter of the year, but South African employers won’t have much opportunity to sit and reflect on business over the past ten months – the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) has confirmed the Employment Equity Amendment Bill 2018 will be tabled before Parliament before the end of October 2019.
The Employment Equity Amendment Bill, 2018 and the Draft Employment Equity Regulations, 2018 were published for public comment for 60 days from 21 September 2018 to 20 November 2018.
The legislation seeks to further establish and increase transformation in the workplace – a necessary step in the process of workplace transformation and progressive change in corporate South Africa.
Regulate sector-specific employment equity targets
As with any proposed legislation, it is vital that employers be cognisant of the changes that will come about.
Firstly, employers need to be aware that the law will empower the labour minister to regulate sector-specific employment equity targets and promulgate Section 53 of the Act to enable the issuing of Employment Equity compliance certificates as a prerequisite for accessing state contracts.
We advise all employers to review the Bill and its contents to better acquaint themselves with the finer details. As an initial guide, we have highlighted several significant changes.
Proposed changes to the Bill include a revision to the definition of “designated employer”, and a revision to the National Minimum Wage Commission.
Specify numerical targets for any sector
Moreover, Section 14 of the principal Act (Voluntary Compliance) has been deleted. This means that in terms of Section 53 (State Contracts), employers with fewer than 50 employees will no longer be able to participate in a government tender, but can be issued with a Certificate of Compliance to enable them to do business with government, provided they comply with Chapter 2 of the EE Act (Unfair Discrimination) and the National Minimum Wage Act.
A new subsection, section 15A, has been added to Chapter 3, Section 15 (Affirmative Action Measures) of the Act. Section 15A (Establishment of Sectoral Targets) has been added to specify numerical targets for any sector or part of a sector.
This means the minister may publish a notice in the Government Gazette identifying national economic sectors for the purposes of the EE Act, having regard to any relevant code contained in the Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities published by Statistics South Africa.
Regulations prescribing the criteria
The minister may, by notice in the Gazette, set numerical targets for any sector or part of a sector identified. The notice issued may set different numerical targets for different occupational levels, or regions within a sector, or on the basis of any other relevant factor.
The minister may also issue regulations prescribing the criteria to be considered in determining a numerical target.
The implementation of this legislation will have far-reaching consequences for all businesses in South Africa, especially those businesses competing to attract government’s attention.