Parliament urged to ensure Employment Equity Bill provides for ministerial consultations
INTEREST groups have called on Parliament to ensure that the amendment to the Employment Equity Act provides for the minister to consult when setting numerical targets of suitably qualified people from designated groups in workplaces.
This emerged when Agri SA, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and other groups made oral presentations to the employment and labour portfolio committee’s public hearings on the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.
They raised concerns that a 2018 version of the bill was different to the one currently before Parliament and has left out some matters that were of interest to them.
The bill provides for Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi to publish a notice in the government gazette identifying national economic sectors, and also empowers labour inspectors to obtain a written undertaking from an employer to prepare an employment equity plan.
If the bill is passed as is, Nxesi will be empowered to issue compliance certificates confirming an employer’s compliance in relation to the conclusion of state contracts, among other things.
Busa told MPs that there were technical changes made to the bill that was agreed to at Nedlac in 2018, to the one approved by the Cabinet and sent to Parliament.
Board member Kaizer Moyane said the department had wanted the government to be assisted to push transformation by giving the minister power to set targets for certain sectors.
“Busa agreed with this notion at Nedlac on understanding that when he sets the targets, he should do it in consultation with specific sectors,” he said.
Moyane also said the consultation with industry players was agreed to, but for reasons unknown the bill moved away from the agreed wording. “It is also important if the minister does not agree that the act should provide for processes to cover instances where parties don’t agree on targets.”
Agri SA executive director Christo van der Rheede said for the minister to have unlimited discretion in setting targets would be highly problematic and it would be challenged on various legal grounds.
Telkom’s Siyabonga Mahlangu said the entity noted that the bill empowered the minister to set numerical targets and was required to consult only with the Employment Equity Commission. “The minister should take into account all submissions before publication of the notice to ensure that such targets are rational, informed and capable of implementation,” he said.