South Africa’s major new BEE laws get the green light

Cabinet has approved the submission of the Employment Equity Amendment (EEA) Bill of 2020 to Parliament, government said in a statement on Tuesday (18 February).

“The amendments will empower the minister of Employment and Labour, in consultation with sector stakeholders, to introduce enabling provisions for the setting of sector-specific Employment Equity numerical targets,” it said.

“It also reduces the regulatory burden on small employers.  The bill promotes equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination.”

First announced in 2019, the EEA Bill will regulate the setting of sector-specific employment targets to address the gross under-representation of blacks, women and persons with disabilities.

It will also ensure that an employment equity certificate of compliance becomes a precondition for access to state contracts.

A draft version of the bill published at the end of 2018 indicated that the changes being were made to speed up transformation in the country.

The bill states that while the public sector has seen significant changes, the private sector continues to lag behind.

“It has been 20 years since the inception of the Employment Equity Act, however the pace of transformation has been slow,” the bill states.

“Relative to the demographics of the Economically Active Population (EAP) as released by StatsSA, marginal progress in relation to the equitable representation of the designated groups, in particular Africans, coloureds and persons with disabilities have been made in the middle-to-upper occupational levels, which is repeatedly visible in the statistics contained in all the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) annual reports.”

Businesses impacted

Should it be passed in parliament, the EEA will have a significant impact on businesses and their respective sectors.

John Botha, chief operating officer of Global Business Solutions, highlighted the construction sector as an example of an industry which will have to meet its sectoral targets by 2025.

“This means that they will have to review their employment policies and procedures, conduct better workforce planning based on anticipated workforce movement and capacitate their employment equity committees and line managers to ensure adherence to re-aligned employment equity plans.

“In addition to these sectoral targets, the Employment Equity Plans also have to address the analysis, interpretation and remediation of income differentials across occupational levels and in terms of the vertical inequality or Gini Index of an organisation,” he said.

Upon being introduced in parliament, the bill will undergo a full public consultation process.

Read: South Africa to introduce specialised short-courses to help people find work: Ramaphosa

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South Africa’s major new BEE laws get the green light