Although Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has called for the Employment Equity Amendment Bill to be expedited as it will allow for small businesses to have greater economic access, it must go through a Parliamentary process that is not time-bound.
The department’s chief director for labour relations, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, told Vutivi News that the Bill was currently with the labour’s portfolio committee. Another two meetings were scheduled to finalise it, and it would then have to be considered by the National Council of Provinces.
Asked what could be done to speed up the passing of Bill, which is aimed at transforming the workplace, Mkalipi replied: “Nothing can be done by the department, remember (there is a) separation of powers (between the executive and Parliament).”
The Bill was introduced in 2020.
Nxesi made his comments after the Employment Equity Commission released its annual report last week. It warned that it would take at least 50 years to see real transformation in the workplace if the current pace of employment equity implementation in top management persisted.
One of the main objectives of the amendments is to exempt small employers – with a staff complement of 49 or less – from affirmative action processes. It amends the definition of “designated employers” to remove annual turnover thresholds which will help reduce both administrative and compliance burdens on small employers. While they do not have to comply with the law, they cannot have been found guilty of unfair discrimination nor pay their staff less than the national minimum wage.
“They can still do business with the government if they answer only two questions. First, do they comply with the national minimum wage and whether they have a case that has been decided at the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation. Mediation and Arbitration), Labour Court or the Constitutional Court on unfair discrimination,” said Mkalipi.
“Answering correct on these two questions entitles them to the certificate of compliance for equity that can be used for BEE.” According to the report, the department and commission are still holding engagements with stakeholders, which included setting employment equity targets for various sectors. “It is envisaged that these engagements are to be finalised in the 2021/2022 financial year noting that the process has also been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown period and the regulations related to managing the pandemic,” it reads.
The commission’s report found that 64.7% of top management positions are occupied by whites, 15.8% by Africans, 10.6% by Indians, 5.7% by coloureds and 3.1% by foreign nationals. A total of 75.1% of these positions are occupied by men.