The Release of the 23rd Annual CEE Report. What you need to know about the New Employment Bill?

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The Employment Equity Amendment Act 4 of 2022 has been signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The Employment Equity Act of 1998 (Act 55 of 1998) is amended by the Act with new provisions to support equality and diversity in the workplace. The President has not yet declared the start date.

Except for the South African National Defence Force, National Intelligence Agency, and South African Secret Services, all employees and employers who conduct business in South Africa are subject to the Employment Equity Act (EEA). Despite the fact that all employers (aside from those on the above list) must comply with the EEA, some of its provisions only apply to certain types of employers.

To limit the application of these sections to a smaller group of employers and lessen some of the administrative burden on smaller employers, the EEA amendments will result in a change to the definition of “designated employer.” The amendments’ main goal is to give the Minister of Labor and Employment more authority to do things like identify and establish employment equity numerical targets for each national economic sector. The goal of the numerical targets is to guarantee fair representation of qualified individuals from historically underrepresented groups in the workforce across all occupational levels, taking into account factors such as race, gender, and disability.

Extracts from 23rd Annual CEE Report:

The main objectives of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill include the following: 

“To reduce the regulatory burden for small employers, i.e. those employers that employ between 1 to 49 employees will be excluded from complying with the provisions of Chapter III of the EEA; 

To empower the Minister to regulate the sector specific numerical EE targets; 

To promulgate Section 53; and 

To strengthen compliance, including the issuing of EE compliance certificates. 

Preparations for the implementation of the amendments are at an advanced stage. Some of the preparations include the publication of the amended EE Regulations and the proposed sector numerical EE targets for public comment. The assenting of the Amendment Bill may result in changes to the CEE Annual Report format, which would highlight the impact of the amendments and its progress towards employment equity. “

Update on Sector Engagements 

“The Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) together with the Department have concluded the follow-up sector engagements/ consultations with stakeholders from the 18 economic sectors as reflected in the Draft EE Regulations (EEA17 form) published in September 2018. 

The main purpose of the follow-up sector engagements/ consultations was to reach consensus on the final proposed sector specific EE numerical targets that will be published for 30 days for public comment, upon the promulgation of the Amendment Bill into law. 

The final sector specific EE numerical targets will be implemented after the consideration of public comments and subsequent final publication. In the implementation process of the sector specific EE numeral targets, all designated employers will be required to review and align their EE Plans with the relevant published sector targets and the duration/ timeframe thereof. The alignment of EE Plans to the sector targets will enable the CEE to assess and monitor the progress of transformation in different sectors of the labour market. “

Advocacy and capacity building initiatives on the elimination of harassment in the workplace 

“As part of the CEE’s advocacy and capacity building initiatives to roll-out the implementation of the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the workplace (Harassment Code) published in March 2022, the CEE embarked on various initiatives outlined below: “

Capacity Building for trade unions on the Harassment Code 

“The Harassment Code recognises that both employers and employees, including trade unions have critical roles and responsibilities to fulfil in the prevention, elimination and management of the impact of all forms of harassment in the workplace. As a result, the CEE deemed it fundamental to capacitate the trade unions to encourage workplace activism. The virtual capacity building workshops which were designed for shop stewards and officials of registered trade unions were conducted in May 2022. 18 

The purpose of the workshops was to highlight the responsibilities and obligations of trade unions relating to the elimination of unfair discrimination, which involved the Codes of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace and on Equal Pay/ Remuneration for Work of Equal Value. “

Awareness campaigns on the Harassment Code 

“The CEE in partnership with the CCMA conducted employment equity awareness raising campaigns / roadshows covering all nine provinces in August and September 2022. The main purpose of the campaigns / roadshows was to, amongst other things, create awareness about the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace. In addition, the CCMA shared case law on disputes covering various types of harassment, including sexual and gender-based harassment.

The CEE urges all employers in consultation with employees and trade unions, to develop and implement workplace harassment policies and practices that complies with the provisions of this Harassment Code. In addition, both employers and trade unions should include in their orientation, training and educational programmes, the issues around the prevention and elimination of harassment in the workplace. “

Stakeholder Engagement on Equal Pay/ Remuneration for Work of Equal Value 

“The CEE and the CCMA hosted a Stakeholder Engagement on Equal Pay / Remuneration for Work of Equal Value on 23 November 2022. This event included delegates from NEDLAC Social Partners, i.e. Organised Business, Organised Labour, Government, Community constituencies, Section 9 institutions and Remuneration Experts. 

The purpose of this event was to engage key stakeholders to assess the impact of the introduction of specific legal provisions of the principle of Equal Pay / Remuneration for Work of Equal Value in the South African labour market since August 2014. In addition, to identify implementation challenges and proposed solutions for future improvements relating to legislation, policy and practice. The setting of the scene was guided by providing the legal framework governing Equal Pay / Remuneration for Work of Equal Value in South Africa; and providing an overview of Equal pay case law in relation to equal pay disputes handled by both the CCMA and the Labour Courts. As part of the discussions, NEDLAC Social partners were given an opportunity to identify implementation challenges and, at the same time, table proposed solutions for the effective implementation of the principle of Equal Pay / Remuneration for Work of Equal Value in South Africa. Some key challenges identified included: 

Lack of access to information on salaries and benefits packages to enable gathering of evidence to support equal pay disputes; 

Lack of transparency in job evaluation processes and grading systems; 

Confidentiality clauses in employment contracts regarding sharing of information on salaries and benefits amongst employees; 

Lack of knowledge and capacity of employees in the interpretation of the law; 

Market forces dictating the premiums to attract and retain critical skills; 

Lack of compliance and enforcement; and 

Insufficient awareness raising on EE and Equal Pay. 

In order to address the identified challenges, the following key proposed solutions were identified: 

Possible amendment in the LRA (Sec 16) to enable employees / trade unions to access information on salaries and benefits structures to gather evidence for equal pay cases/ disputes; 

Possible review and amendment of Equal Pay policies, including Code of Good Practice on Equal pay to encourage transparency and information sharing on salaries and benefits structures, job evaluations and grading systems;

(CEE) ANNUAL REPORT 2022-2023 19 

Strengthening of compliance and enforcement; 

Capacitation of stakeholders to better understand complexities of remuneration, grading systems, etc.; 

Capacity building/ Public Awareness on EE and Equal Pay to enhance knowledge and interpretation of the law; and 

Frequent Stakeholder Engagements. “

“In conclusion, the CEE and the CCMA agreed to consider all the proposed solutions and, where possible, make the necessary policy and practice adaptations to ensure compliance to the effective implementation of the principle of Equal Pay/ Remuneration for Work of Equal Value in the South African labour market.”

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