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Minister: carrot and stick approach needed for employment equity


As self-imposed targets are clearly not working, perhaps amendments to the Employment Equity Act will ensure transformation in the workplace

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant believes the introduction of a carrot and stick approach will improve compliance by business with the Employment Equity Act and expedite the pace of transformation in the labour market.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant. Picture: GCIS

This approach is embodied in the proposed amendments to the act and its regulations, which were released for public comment in September last year.

The proposed amendments will empower the labour minister to set sector-specific numerical targets for employment equity after consultation with the sectoral stakeholders, and on the advice of the Commission for Employment Equity. There is also a proposal that an Employment Equity Act employment equity certificate be a prerequisite to access state contracts.

Replying to a question in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) by ANC MP by Moses Mhlanga, Oliphant said that the pace of transformation of the workplace has been too slow

“Even after 24 years of democracy and 20 years of the Employment Equity Act, it has become evident that the pace of the attainment of the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom has been at a snail’s pace,” she said.

Oliphant referred to the findings of the 2017-2018 Commission of Employment Equity Annual Report that black people and women only accounted for 32.3% and 22.9%, respectively, of all top executive decision-making positions of the labour market. At senior management level, black people accounted for 43.9% and women for just 33.8%.

“Although there is some progress noticed at the professionally qualified middle-management level, where black people constituted 63.5% and women 46.6% of all positions at this level, these groups seem to have reached a glass ceiling and have not been able to progress or advance to the two upper echelons of organisations across economic sectors,” Oliphant said.

She added that it was clear that self-imposed targets are not working and that boards and executive leadership are not demonstrating a will and commitment to drive transformation.

“A white, male-dominant organisational culture still prevails, which continues to exclude black people and women, in particular, and persons with disabilities from entering the labour market at a decision-making level.”

Replying to another question on the wage gap agreement reached at last year’s job summit, Oliphant said her department is working on how to give effect to the agreement that there be reporting on pay ratios between the highly and lowly paid. This will at first be done voluntarily in annual reports with the intention to move to mandatory reporting based on defined ratios, also in annual reports.

The department will engage with the JSE to assess the feasibility of mandatory reporting of pay ratios among their its companies.

Proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act regulations will also improve reporting on income differentials, Oliphant said. Parties at the jobs summit agreed that, currently, no information is available to measure the extent of the disparity in pay and how it manifests itself across sectors.



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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