Every designated employer is required to design and implement an employment Equity plan. The purpose of the employment Equity plan is to enable the employer “to achieve reasonable progress towards employment Equity”, to assist in eliminating unfair discrimination in the workplace, and to achieve equitable representation of employees from designated groups by means of affirmative action measures.
An employment Equity plan therefore must clearly set out the steps that the employer plans to follow to achieve these objectives. In order to assist employers, the Department of Labour published a Code of Good Practice on the Preparation, Implementation and Monitoring of Employment Equity Plans. The Department of Labour also published a user guide to the employment Equity act, detailing 10 steps to preparing and implementing an employment Equity plan. Every employer should be in possession of at least these two documents – the Code of Good Practice and the User Guide.
There is no rigid format for an employment Equity plan, and the act allows employers to customise the plan to suit their own needs. Employment Equity and affirmative action applies to all designated employers and their employees, particularly those employees from designated groups. Designated employers are employers who employee 50 or more employees, employers who employ less than 50 employees but whose annual turnover exceeds or equals the amounts in schedule 4 of the EEA, or an employer who has been declared a designated employer in terms of a collective agreement.
Certain state organs are excluded, such as the National Defence Force, the National Intelligence Agency and the South African Secret Service. Designated groups are Africans, Coloureds, and Indians, woman of all races, and people with disabilities. All employers who have 50 or more employees on the date on which reports were due are required to report, and all employers who have 150 or more employees on the date on which reports were due are required to comply with the reporting requirements for larger employers.
Chapter 3 of the employment Equity act requires that employers take certain affirmative action measures to achieve employment Equity.
- Employers must consult with the unions and employees in order to make sure that the plan is accepted by everybody and to allow all parties to have fair input
- Employers must analyse all employment policies, practices and procedures, and prepare a profile of their workforce in order to identify any problems relating to employment Equity.
- Employers must prepare and implement an employment Equity plan, setting out the affirmative action measures they intend taking to achieve the employment Equity goals.
- Employers must report to the Department of Labour on the implementation of the plan in order for the department to monitor their compliance.
- Employers must display a summary of the provisions of the act in all languages relevant to their workplace. The summaries are available from the government printer and certain offices of the Department of Labour.
In the implementation of EE, we are concerned with a number of documents. These are the Code of Good Practice on the Implementation of Employment Equity Plans, the Employment Equity Act itself, the Regulations under the Employment Equity Act, and the user guide published by the Department of Labour. The Code of Good Practice on the Implementation of Employment Equity Plans is not law. It has been published as a guide to employers, and it does give some valuable tips and information. Despite not being law, the Code must be taken into account.