Strict workplace transformation rules coming for South Africa – what you need to know

 ·31 Aug 2022

The newly amended Employment Equity (EE) Act is set to come into operation on 01 September 2023, with the aim to aid workplace transformation in South Africa.

The amendments will empower the employment and labour minister to regulate sector-specific EE targets and to regulate compliance criteria to issue EE Compliance Certificate in terms of Section 53 of the EE Act.

This means that organisations that do business with the state will have to be in good standing when it comes to compliance with EE.

The Employment Equity Amendment Bill, 2020 was passed by Parliament (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces) on 17 May 2022 and is waiting for the assenting and signing into law by president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Acting deputy director-general of Labour Policy and Industrial Relations, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, said the signing of the bill by the president is imminent.

He cautioned that even businesses that do not necessarily deal directly with the state will need to comply with the law.

Engagements on the setting of sector-specific EE targets began in June 2019, and are anticipated to be completed by the end of next month – September 2022.

The acting deputy director-general was speaking at the Eastcape Training Centre in Gqeberha on Tuesday (30 August) during the joint Department of Employment and Labour, and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) 2022 Employment Equity workshop.

Mkalipi said the department would, in due course, publish the list of sector targets for public comment.

“The implication for employers is that if you have an EE plan in place, it will be affected by the setting of targets, and you will have to revisit your targets,” he said.

According to Mkalipi, 18 sectors have been consulted on the setting of EE targets.

Some of the sectors consulted include:

  • Education;
  • Water supply,
  • Sewerage management and remediation;
  • Accommodation and food services;
  • Human health and social work;
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • Wholesale and retail trade;
  • Repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles;
  • Administrative and support;
  • Professional, scientific and technical;
  • Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply;
  • Financial and insurance activities.

The remaining sectors that are to be consulted between now and the end of September include:

  • Mining and quarrying;
  • Public administration;
  • Defence;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Information and communication;
  • Construction;
  • Real estate.

Mkalipi said a new EE online assessment system will be created to monitor the implementation of sector targets. He said the assessment will be done annually. He said the system will allow employers to report on their planned targets and how they intend to achieve those.

He said in the financial year 2024 – the first year post sector target setting period – the system will be able to tell whether employers were achieving their target plans. He said in case employers were not meeting their targets, they would need to have justifiable reasons for not fulfilling their set targets.

“The system will accept in good faith all the information supplied. The department will, through the inspectorate, visit workplaces to verify if information submitted is genuine,” he said.

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