Change may spur claims of equal pay

Business Day - Business Law and Tax Review - - BUSINESS LAW & TAX REVIEW - JO­HAN BOTES

ON JULY 25, the Pres­i­dent pro­claimed Au­gust 1 as the ef­fec­tive date for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Em­ploy­ment Eq­uity Amend­ment Act.

The amend­ments usher in likely claims of equal pay for equal work by em­ploy­ees feel­ing ag­grieved by dif­fer­ences in their terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment.

Des­ig­nated em­ploy­ers must now also re­port on un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion in re­la­tion to dif­fer­ences in terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment when sub- mit­ting their em­ploy­ment eq­uity re­port on in­come dif­fer­en­tials. These em­ploy­ers must also now re­port on rea­son­able steps taken to ap­point, train and pro­mote suit­able peo­ple from des­ig­nated groups.

Labour dis­pute res­o­lu­tion pro­cesses are fur­ther stream­lined with claims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment now ca­pa­ble of res­o­lu­tion through ar­bi­tra­tion at the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA), whereas the Labour Court pre­vi­ously ad­ju­di­cated this cat­e­gory of un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion claims.

Em­ploy­ers should au­dit terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ees in dif- fer­ent cat­e­gories of em­ploy­ment. Where em­ploy­ers are un­able to rely on grounds of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween em­ploy­ees do­ing the same work or work of equal value, the em­ployer may face an un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion claim.

It is likely there will be a num­ber of claims re­ferred to the CCMA un­til such time as em­ploy­ers grow ac­cus­tomed to the con­di­tions un­der which they may dif­fer­en­ti­ate and those that amount to un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion. The draft reg­u­la­tions pro­vide some guide­lines that should be con­sid­ered when de­ter­min­ing the de­gree of com­pli­ance in the work­place.

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