The Role of Employment Equity in HR

Perhaps one of the most important roles in Human Resources today, is designing and implementing an Employment Equity strategy, not only to comply with equity measures and eliminate unfair discrimination but also to attract, develop and promote diversity within the workplace.

According to the Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998, a Designated Employer is (a) an employer who employ 50 or more employees; (b) an employer who employs fewer than 50 employees, but has an annual turnover that is equal to or above the applicable turnover of a small business in terms of Schedule 4 to the Act; (e) an employer bound by a collective agreement in terms of section 23 or 31 of the Labour Relation Act.

Designated employers are required by Chapter 3 of the Act, to implement Employment Equity Measures including:

  • identify and eliminate employment barriers
  • implement measures to further diversity in the workplace
  • make reasonable accommodation for people from designated groups
  • (i) ensure the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce
  • (ii) retain and develop people from designated groups and to implement appropriate training measures

This involves eliminating unfair discrimination in HR policies and practices, as well as designing and implementing affirmative action measures. Four processes outlined by the Act when implementing these measures:

  1. Consulting with employees and representative trade unions.
  2. Auditing and analysing all employment policies and practices in the workplace and developing a demographic profile of the workforce that can be measured against the demographic profile of the country and the region in which the employer is based.
  3. Preparing and implementing an equity plan.
  4. Reporting to the Department of Labour on progress made on the implementation of its Employment Equity plan.

Employment Equity principles and measures should be implemented throughout the entire employment cycle, from commencement to termination. The Code of Good Practice on the Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resources Policies and Procedures provides guidelines based on each phase of the employment cycle and measures that can be used at each phase, including:

  • Job Analysis and Job Descriptions
  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Induction and Probation
  • Medical, Psychological and Other Similar Assessments
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment
  • Remuneration
  • Job Assignments and Performance Management
  • Skills Development, Promotion and Transfer
  • Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information
  • Retention Scope
  • Harassment
  • Discipline, Grievance and Dispute Resolution
  • Terminating Employment and Exit Interviews

Section 20, Chapter 3 of the Act outlines the requirements of the designated employers Employment Equity Plan. The plan should include objectives, affirmative action measures, timetables, duration, procedures and responsibilities that employers will implement.

Employers are also required to submit an Employment Equity Report, as per Section 21 of the Act. Reports can be submitted manually or online. Large employers must submit their reports within the first six months of being designated and thereafter on the first working day of October.  Small employers must submit their first report within twelve months of being designated, and thereafter on the first working day of October of every year that ends with an even number.

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