The signing into law of the employment equity amendment bill by the President ends a long period of uncertainty on the proposed changes and impact of our transformation laws. BUSA welcomes the step, which is in line with the position the organisation had adopted throughout the bill process from NEDLAC to Parliament. Most importantly, BUSA is pleased that employment equity targets for sectors will be set by the Minister of Employment and Labour only after consultation with the relevant business and employer bodies in the affected sectors. “In our view, meaningful consultation on sector targets affirms social dialogue and will ensure the relevance of the set targets”, said Cas Coovadia, the CEO of BUSA.
BUSA is however aware that some aspects of the law remain problematic, as the organisation had raised in Parliament during the public hearings process in 2021 and 2022. For example, measuring compliance and issuing compliance certificates as a licence to do business with the state will depend on whether a company has met its targets and does not have a case of unfair discrimination raised against it at the CCMA or Labour Court in the previous 12 months.
“What concerns us is treating targets as quotas, which would be against the spirit and letter of the law anyway”, said Coovadia. He also added that “companies should not be subjected to double punishment by the CCMA or Labour Court and the Department of Employment and Labour for the same issue, which could lead to unnecessary litigation and derail our objective of transformed workplaces.”
While welcoming the transformation mandate driven through the employment equity legislation, BUSA also expresses concerns around the fragmentation of policy objectives and enforcement mechanisms within government, with some companies, because of their sectors, expected to comply with different transformation targets administered by different government departments or entities. “These complex arrangements increase the compliance burden, which in turn may derail transformation, especially at a time when South Africa desperately needs economic growth to generate much needed employment”, cautioned Coovadia.
BUSA will continue constructive engagements with the Department of Employment and Labour on the implementation arrangements, which will hopefully resolve some of the concerns it raised.
Business Unity SA CEO
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