Employment equity legislation – a brief overview
The purpose of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (“the Act”) is to achieve equity in the workplace by promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination and implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups, in order to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workplace.
The Act therefore ensures that designated groups have equal opportunities in finding employment in South Africa. Every designated employer is required to construct and implement an employment equity plan.
Briefly, a designated employer includes inter alia:
- Those who employ 50 or more employees or;
- Those who employ fewer than 50 employees but whose annual turnover is equivalent to or more than the annual turnover of a small business as detailed in Schedule 4 of the Act
"The Employment Equity Act ensures that designated groups have equal opportunities in finding employment in South Africa."
"Designated groups" means black people (which in turn includes African, Indian, Chinese and Coloured people), women and people with disabilities.
For further information in relation to inter alia definitions, application and affirmative action processes herein, please refer to the Act.
Creating an employment equity plan
To achieve the objectives of progress towards employment equity, eliminating unfair discrimination in the workplace and to achieve equitable representation of employees from designated groups, designated employers must set out, and report on all steps within their employment equity plans.
For more information, please see the Department of Labour's Basic Guide to Employment Equity Plans:
"Recruitment and selection is often the most important mechanism to achieve numerical targets and to increase the representivity of designated groups in the workplace."
How Michael Page can help
Item 7 of The Code of Good Practice on the Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices deals with recruitment and selection. It states:
Item 7.2 - Recruitment and selection is often the most important mechanism to achieve numerical targets and to increase the representivity of designated groups in the workplace.
Item 7.4.1 - Recruitment and selection must be aligned to the employer's affirmative action strategy, as reflected in its employment equity plan, which sets out the detail in relation to the numerical targets for each designated group by occupational categories and levels.
We at Michael Page have a proven track record in partnering with organisations to recruit candidates for their employment equity positions. It’s crucial that the employment equity positions that we advertise on our clients’ behalf are in line with their employment equity plans or provisions for employment equity appointments within these plans. If recruitment is not undertaken in line with these policies and plans, it may be held to be discriminatory.
We’re experts at recruiting the right talent for your organisation rather than providing legal advice, so for more information on the Employment Equity Act and the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, and the implementation thereof, please contact your company attorneys or alternatively see the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade and Industry websites:
"We at Michael Page have a proven track record in partnering with organisations to recruit candidates for their employment equity jobs."