The Employment Equity Amendment Bill, 2020 (the Bill) was passed by Parliament on 17 May 2022, amending the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (the EEA). These changes are set to come into force during September 2023 when the President finally signs the Bill.
The most notable amendment is the narrowing of the definition of “designated employer”, which now means that employers employing less than 50 employees, irrespective of their annual turnover, will no longer form part of the designated employer definition.
They will now be exempt from compliance, meaning that such employers will no longer be required to implement measures ensuring suitably qualified people from designated groups have equal employment opportunities and are represented at all occupational levels in the workplace. Affirmative action is, therefore, no longer applicable to these private companies unless appointed as a designated employer in terms of a collective agreement.
Furthermore, by the inclusion of Section 15A, the Bill has nevertheless empowered the Minister of Employment and Labour Minister to “set numerical targets for any national economic sector” for “the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups at all occupational levels in the workforce”, which sectoral targets can be monitored by interested parties.
The third major amendment will affect companies wanting to do business with the State. Any company intending to do so will need to provide an Employment Equity Compliance Certificate in terms of Section 53 of the EEA, indicating that they are compliant with their obligations under the Act, such as:
- Having complied with any sectoral numerical targets applicable to them or indicating reasonable grounds justifying any failure to comply;
- Their annual employment equity report has been submitted;
- In the previous 12 months, there being no findings by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or a court that the employer has violated the unfair discrimination provisions of the EEA or has failed to pay the national minimum wage.
The above provisions are intended to reduce the regulatory burden on small employers.