President assents to the Employment Equity Amendment Bill
President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Employment Equity Amendment Bill of 2020. The Amendment Bill seeks to advance transformation of South Africa’s workforce by setting equity targets for economic sectors and geographical regions, and requiring enterprises to develop transformation plans.
The Bill amends the Employment Equity Act of 1998 (Act No 55 of 1998) with new measures to promote diversity and equality in the workplace.
Among its key provisions, the Amendment Bill empowers the Minister of Employment and Labour to set employment-equity targets for economic sectors, as well as regions where transformation is lagging. The amendment Bill also empowers the Minister of Employment and Labour to regulate compliance criteria to issue Compliance Certificates as per Section 53 of the Employment Equity Act.
The amended Act allows the Minister of Employment and Labour to set regional targets given that racial diversity in South Africa often has regional differences.
The law requires employers with more than 50 employees to submit employment equity plans for their companies, spelling out how they will achieve these targets. Employers are then required to submit annual reports to the Department of Employment and Labour.
In the area of remuneration, the law requires employers to pay workers equal pay for equal work. The Bill provides clear definitions of discrimination and sets out what workers can do when facing such discrimination - including lodging grievances with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, or the Labour Courts.
Companies seeking to do business with the state will be required to submit a certificate from the Department confirming that they are in compliance with the Employment Equity Act and its objectives, and that they do not pay their employees less than the national minimum wage.
As part of ensuring the employment equity objectives become reality, the law now compels labour inspectors to inspect workplaces and to issue employers with compliance orders. The Department of Employment and Labour has committed to increase the number of labour inspectors and health and safety inspectors who will enforce compliance.
Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President
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