Employment Equity is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation out there. Not because it is often seen as a legalised form of discrimination, but rather because it is very often misunderstood and even more often ignored. Ignoring Employment Equity compliance can lead to fines of millions of Rands and imprisonment - a risk not many businesses should be willing to take.
The core purpose of Employment Equity (EE) legislation is often misunderstood. Employers are unaware of why this legislation is important or how to implement it (without causing harm due to misconceptions and suspicion among their employees). Understanding the core purpose of this legislation and how it affects the workplace is the start of ethical EE implementation.
EE legislation, in a nutshell, requires designated employers to:
- Submit an Annual EE Plan to the Commission for Employment Equity
- Identify their own barriers to implementation
- Set targets for achieving Employment Equity in their workplace
As part of these obligations, EE legislation is a driver of equity and fairness across all differentiating factors. It addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, equal pay for work of equal value, the provision of fair remuneration and benefits, as well as dispute resolution for discrimination. So while EE may sound complicated or cumbersome, it is in actual fact very beneficial for the workplace in different ways.
For one, understanding and adhering to the EE Act reduces risk and workload for employers - especially when it comes to dealing with situations such as discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace. The protocols and avenues to follow are already in place and employers need not spend time to develop their own policies or protocols for these issues. Furthermore, taking EE seriously has the potential to foster harmony inside an organisation when employees are aware of the measures put in place to protect them from harmful discrimination, harassment, or unfairness.
For a detailed breakdown of the basics of EE in the workplace, we have created a booklet for Employment Equity in the Workplace. This booklet contains the most recent relevant legislation for EE in the Workplace to help businesses understand the essence of the EE Act and how it affects business. This booklet is available for free download here: Download the 2020 EE in the Workplace Booklet (PDF, 839KB)