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The Employment Equity Bill is now in its final stages awaiting to be assented into law. One of the changes that are going to come through are sector specific targets.

Sectoral targets will be set for the purpose of ensuring fair representation of suitably qualified people at all occupational levels in the workforce. Consultations are still taking place with different stakeholders across all economic sectors thereafter the Minister will publish a gazette for 30-day public comment on the proposed sectorial targets. Employers will then be required to set up their own targets in line with the sector targets. Sectoral targets will be set for five years and will be reviewed.

‘’The effect of the proposed amendments is that the Minister may impose sectoral numerical targets. These prescribed numerical targets will effectively override the targets contained in a designated employer’s employment equity plan. However, in terms of section 16, read with section 17, of the current employment Equity Act, designated employers are legally required to consult with their employees (by way of an employment equity committee) on the content of the targets to be achieved) and implementation of their employment equity plans.

If the Employment Equity Act is amended, it will mean that an employer will be bound to use the sectoral targets fixed by the Minister in its employment equity plan, and consultation with employees would be rendered meaningless. The employer’s hands will be tied, regardless of the input from its employees. Business Unit South Africa does not believe that this disempowering consequences should be allowed to stand, given its potential disruptive effect on workplace harmony and labour relations.

Department of Employment and Labour disagree with arguments by Business Unit South Africa that the sector targets set by the Minister in terms of section 15A will disempower employers to consult with employees and are in conflict with the requirements of section 16 read with section 17 of the Employment Equity Act, because Business Unit South Africa was part of the NEDLAC Agreement, where in all NEDLAC social partners agreed that employers should be given powers to regulate their own Annual targets in the Employment Equity Plan towards achievement of their relevant sector targets in consultation with the employees as required by sections 16 and 17 of the Employment Equity Act.

In fact, it is important to highlight that the implementation plans for the amendments is that the Minister would regulate sector targets for a period not less than three years and not more than five years, to allow the regulatory flexibility for employers in consultation with their employees to regulate their own Annual targets in the Employment Equity Plans towards the achievement of the sector targets.’’ – Key sections of EE Amendment Bill topical issue for discussion CEE meeting held on the 15th of June 2022.

Management control which is the participation of black people in the control and decision making at managerial level from board to junior level. Through this B-BBEE element companies get to account on their compliance on Employment Equity targets. If proposed Employment Equity targets come into law this will also affect B-BBEE management control targets of an entity. Meaning a measured entity has to revisit their management control element to see if this will not affect their B-BBEE score.

Article By:

Rumbi Vashoma: EE & SDF Consultant - Compliance Hub

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