Labour transformation: New bill could force companies to meet ‘numerical targets’

Thulas Nxesi. Image credit: Twitter/Dept of Employment and Labour

A new draft bill could compel companies in certain economic sectors to meet numerical targets in the employment of designated groups of people.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on Monday published a gazette notice announcing his intention to bring the Employment Equity Amendment Bill to Parliament “shortly.”

Among other provisions, the draft Bill states, “The Minister may, after consulting the National Minimum Wage Commission, for the purpose of ensuring the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups at all occupational levels in the workforce, by notice in the Gazette set numerical targets for any national economic sector identified in terms of subsection (1).”

The designated groups

According to an explanatory memorandum accompanying the notice, the designated groups include “blacks, women and persons with disabilities.”

The draft bill also proposes issuing a certificate to employers who have met the targets. Designated employers would have to submit a compliance report to the Department’s Director-General once every year.

“A notice may set different numerical targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions within a sector or on the basis of any other relevant factor,” it states.

The compliance certificate would become a requirement for any company to apply for state contracts, the draft Bill adds. Nevertheless, it relaxes reporting requirements for companies with fewer than 50 employees.

‘Self-regulation has not worked’

Nxesi has previously bemoaned the slow pace of workplace transformation, including at the launch of the Commission for Employment Equity’s (CEE) 19th annual report in August 2019.

He said, “It is clear that self-regulation has not worked. We need to increase the risk of non-compliance. When the risk of being caught is very low, many of the employers are not going to comply.

“We are going to start to be very harsh. The reason we are focusing on employment equity is that we need to address the inequality that is deeply rooted. All statistics show that as South Africa, we are doing very badly.”

The CEE report found that at top management level, 65.5 percent of the positions in South Africa’s workplaces were occupied by the White group.

The African group constituted 15.1 percent, Indian group 9.7 percent, Coloured group 5.3 percent and Foreign National group 3.4 percent. In terms of gender, males occupied 76.5 percent and women 23.5 percent.

To download the draft bill from the Government Printing Works website, click here.

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