Employment Equity Amendment Act: Understanding the Implications and Key Changes for Employers

The Employment Equity Amendment Act, 2022, which was assented to by the President on 14 April 2023, brings significant changes to the Employment Equity Act (EEA) in South Africa.

The amendments aim to refine the application of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and alleviate the administrative burden on smaller employers.

In this article, we will delve into the main objectives and notable amendments introduced by the Employment Equity Amendment Act, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the changes ahead.

  1. Redefinition of “Designated Employer”: The amendments modify the definition of “designated employer” by focusing solely on the number of employees, disregarding the total annual turnover. Under the new definition, only employers with 50 or more employees will be considered designated employers for affirmative action provisions. This shift will relieve smaller employers of the obligations related to affirmative action, including the development and implementation of employment equity plans and reporting to the Department of Employment and Labour.
  2. Revised Definition of “People with Disabilities”: The definition of “people with disabilities” aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2007. The amended definition encompasses individuals with long-term or recurring physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments that, when combined with various barriers, significantly limit their prospects of entry into or advancement in employment.
  3. Ministerial Authority in Sector-Specific EE Targets: The Employment Equity Amendment Act empowers the Minister of Employment and Labour to regulate sector-specific Employment Equity (EE) targets. This measure allows the Minister to identify national economic sectors, consult with relevant stakeholders, and set numerical targets to ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified individuals from designated groups at all occupational levels within the workplace.
  4. Compliance Criteria and Certificates: The amendments introduce criteria that employers must meet to obtain a certificate of compliance from the Department of Employment and Labour. This certificate will be required for employers engaging in state contracts. The Minister may issue a compliance certificate only if the employer has adhered to the sectoral numerical targets or has provided reasonable grounds for non-compliance.

Implementation and Sectoral Targets

While the Employment Equity Amendment Act was assented to on 14 April 2023, the exact date of implementation is yet to be fixed by the President through a proclamation in the Government Gazette.

The Department of Employment and Labour is currently engaged in a multi-stage process that involves consultation, comment periods, and the final publication of sectoral numerical targets.

Employers should stay informed about the official implementation date and forthcoming sectoral targets through official channels.

Meeting Numerical Targets and Consultation

Designated employers will be required to consult with employee representatives when preparing and implementing their employment equity plans.

This consultation process includes setting numerical goals aligned with sectoral targets, projecting equitable representation, determining timetables, and strategizing to achieve these goals.

Employers failing to meet their targets will have the opportunity to justify non-compliance on a case-by-case basis before the Director-General and the Labour Court.

The Employment Equity Amendment Act, 2022, introduces significant changes aimed at streamlining the application of the Employment Equity Act and reducing administrative burdens on smaller employers.

As the effective date of implementation approaches, it is crucial for employers to familiarise themselves with the amended provisions, anticipate sectoral targets, and ensure compliance with the revised regulations.

Stay tuned for official updates from the Department of Employment and Labour to navigate these changes successfully and promote inclusivity within the South African workforce.