More companies can expect reviews in the coming year for failing to comply with employment equity legislation, says the Department of Employment and Labour’s chief director of statutory and advocacy services Fikiswa Bede.
Bede said that as many as 60% of employers in the current financial year have failed to follow existing regulations, with a growing number of employers requesting settlements out of court – indicating that are budgeting for employment equity fines.
The chief director said in terms of the Director-General (DG) review process, there was a 94% non-compliance with the Employment Equity Act. In the year under review a total of 860 DG reviews were conducted nationally.
The most DG reviews were conducted in Kwa-Zulu-Natal (269); Gauteng Province (213) and the least were in the North West (10). “When one looks at the current DG review data the situation in regards to non-compliance with EE can only get worse,” she said.
A director-general may conduct a review to determine whether an employer is complying with the Employment Equity Act of 1998. The review involves:
- Requesting the employer to submit a current analysis or employment equity plan;
- Requesting the employer to submit to the director-general any book, record, correspondence, document or information that could reasonably be relevant to the review of the employer’s compliance with this Act;
- Request a meeting with an employer to discuss its employment equity plan;
- The implementation of its plan and any matters related to its compliance with this Act; and request a meeting with any employee or trade union consulted in terms of section 16, work forum or another person who may have information relevant to the review.
According to Bede, some of the most common areas of non-compliance include:
- No proof of assignment of EE responsibility;
- EE managers are not provided with the required resources and budget;
- The attendance register does not indicating the constituencies represented by the committee members;
- An analysis conducted post the development of the EE Plan; barrier analysis does not match a true reflection of what is happening in the workplace
- EE plans do not project reasonable progress towards transformation in line with the goals and numerical targets set by the designated employers.
Failure to comply with the director general’s recommendations/request can lead to a referral for non-compliance to the Labour Court.
Speaking at an event on Tuesday (29 March), acting director-general of the department, Marsha Bronkhorst lamented the snail’s pace of transformation of workplaces. She said the department does not need to police and enforce compliance.
“Employers need to inculcate a culture of self-regulation. Unfortunately, Employment Equity has been one of the legislation that has been flouted with impunity since its inception.”
She appealed to employers to transform as enforcement was costly and time-consuming.