The Department of Labour recently published its Employment Equity Amendment Bill 2018, which aims to tighten race targets in the workplace.
The bill will empower the labour minister to establish numerical race targets for particular sectors.
The current Employment Equity Act has self-imposed targets which companies develop using the country’s economically-active population.
However, the government’s 20-year review of the implementation of the Employment Equity Act, 1998 showed that the pace of transformation has been very slow.
According to the review, only marginal progress has been made to employ Africans, Coloureds, and persons with disabilities in the middle-to-upper occupational levels.
The Employment Equity Amendment Bill 2018 aims to change that by ensuring companies meet targets which are set by the minister.
According to Rapport, companies which do not meet these targets can be punished by being banned from doing business with the government.
The minister said they will have a consultation process on the bill through public hearings during October 2018.
Affirmative action policies unconstitutional
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) recently found that South Africa’s affirmative action and employment equity policies were unconstitutional.
The SAHRC specifically took issue with the Employment Equity Act’s definition of designated groups and South Africa’s system of data disaggregation.
Government’s failure to measure the impact of various affirmative action measures on the basis of need is also a failure of international legal conventions, it said.
In a statement released in August, the SAHRC said:
- The definition of designated groups as contained in the Employment Equity Act, and the current system of disaggregation of data could give rise to new imbalances in the labour market.
- Affirmative action measures must be targeted at groups and individuals who are subject to unfair discrimination, to eventually achieve substantive equality and a society based on non-racialism and non-sexism.
- Decisions based on insufficiently disaggregated data fail to target persons who have been disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.
- Without first taking the characteristics of groups into account, varying degrees of disadvantage and the possible intersectionality of multiple forms of discrimination faced by members of vaguely categorised groups cannot be identified.
- The Act must be amended to target more nuanced groups on the basis of need and should take into account social and economic indicators.
- Once the objective of affirmative action, namely substantive equality, is achieved, temporary special measures should cease.