Call to educate communities on legislation

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has spoken of the need to educate communities on the recently amended Employment Equity Act.

The Minister was addressing the Chatsworth community and communities from adjacent areas in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Minister spoke to communities on the recently updated Employment Equity Act (EEA), workplace equity, affirmative action, and related topics. He said that there is still a long way to go towards emancipation, and acknowledged that the pace of transformation of workplaces remains at snail’s pace.

Nxesi noted that the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) Report released in June showed that employment equity (EE) in the workplaces is unfolding at a snail pace, with top management still occupied by Whites at 62.9%, followed by Africans at 16.9%.

This, according to CEE is despite the fact that Africans constitute 80% of the national economically active population (EAP), followed by Coloureds at 9.3%, Whites at 8%, and Indians at 2.7%.

He added that the representation of people with disability in the workplaces is an indictment on government.

The Minister also bemoaned the economic sectors that have abandoned their charter commitments to transform, noting that corruption has seemingly taken over and destroyed communities.

“We had to postpone the promulgation of [Employment Equity] EE Regulations to first hear the voices of people. Transformation is painful and not nice,” he said.

The EE Act is interpreted in compliance with the Constitution and in compliance with the international law obligations of the Republic, in particular those contained in the International Labour Organisation Convention, 1958 (No. 111) concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO), Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, places an obligation on ILO member countries to elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation and the promotion of equality.

Nxesi emphasised that the Convention prohibits all discrimination exclusion on the basis, including race or colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national or social origin in employment, and requires states to enact legislation that is based on equal opportunities.

“On the other hand, the purpose of the Employment Equity Act is to achieve equity in the workplace by – promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination and implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups, in order to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.

“In the advancement of elimination of unfair discrimination, the EE Act places the responsibility on the employer to take steps to promote equal opportunity in the workplace by eliminating unfair discrimination in any employment policy or practice,” Nxesi explained.

In the prohibition of unfair discrimination, the Act prescribes that no person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds.

These include race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth.

The next EE workshop will be held in Cape Town in the Western Cape on 13 September 2023.

The EE workshops target employers or heads of organisations, academics, assigned senior managers, consultative forum members, human resource practitioners, trade unions, employees and other interested stakeholders.

EE reporting season opens

Meanwhile, the department has announced that 2023 EE reporting season opens on 1 September 2023 for both manual and online reporting.

“In terms of reporting timeframes, the manual reporting will close on 2 October 2023 and the online reporting closes on 15 January 2024.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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