What Is Employment Equity
Labour Attorney Johannesburg
What is Employment Equity?
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Designated employers and designated groups. Designated employers are those who employ 50 or more staff members or whose annual turnover is more than that set down in Schedule 4 of the Act (the figures vary according to the type of industry). The National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency and South African Secret Service are excluded. Designated groups are blacks (Africans, Coloureds and Indians), women and people with disabilities.
How do employers go about achieving employment equity?
Employers must draw up an employment equity plan, setting out the steps they intend taking to achieve employment equity, over the next one to five years. To do this, they need to analyse their workforce profile as well as their employment practices and policies. In drawing up the plan they must consult with unions and employees to get consensus around it. Employers need to report their equity plans regularly to the Department of Labour, which then monitors implementation.
Easier said than done. How is an employment equity plan drawn up? The Department of Labour recommends three phases: preparation, implementation and monitoring:
Preparation. First, assign responsibility for the plan to a senior manager (a permanent employee). This manager needs a mandate, a budget and time off to do this. Employment equity outcomes should be part of all managers' performance indicators. All company employees need to be made aware - through pamphlets, workshops, training sessions, etc - of the goals of employment equity laid down in the Employment Equity Act.
A consultative forum must be set up representing everyone in the company, including unions and employees from designated and non-designated groups. The forum must meet regularly.
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An analysis of the company's employment practices and working environment must be done to reveal barriers to achieving employment equity - such as racially biased pre-employment tests - and to find out how many employees of designated groups in different occupational groups or levels are needed.
A Workforce Profile must then be drawn up, comparing the number of employees from designated groups with relevant demographics. This information can be found from Statistics South Africa and from the relevant forms - EEA8 and 9 (available from the Department of Labour's local and regional offices or their website). Employers can also compare their diversity profiles with other companies of similar size or in a similar industry.
Implementation. The information required by employers to set realistic implementation goals should emerge from the preparation phase. The implementation phase involves taking affirmative action measures and other proactive steps to improve the diversity profile of the company or organisation.
Examples would be: to start advertising vacancies in media more suited to designated groups; or to take action to stop the high rate of resignations of a particular designated group. Other proactive steps could be: to combat skills shortages by supporting relevant educational institutions; or by offering bursaries.
A timeframe with target dates must be set; resources must be allocated to implement the plan; and the plan must be shared with all stakeholders in the company.