This article was written by Michelle Naidoo, director at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa
The Employment Equity Amendment Act was published on 16 January 2014. The amendments will come into effect on a date still to be proclaimed.
The significant amendments to the Employment Equity Act are:
- The beneficiaries of affirmative action (designated groups) are limited to black people, women and people with disabilities who are citizens of South Africa by birth or descent.
- The grounds of unfair discrimination are extended to include differential treatment claims because of discrimination on the listed grounds, in relation to terms and conditions of employment between employees who perform the same or substantially the same work or work of equal value.
- The CCMA has extended jurisdiction to arbitrate unfair discrimination disputes if the alleged unfair discrimination concerns sexual harassment or disputes concerning differential terms and conditions of employment.
- The fines for contraventions of the Act has increased substantially, ranging from R1.5million or 2% of the employer’s turnover to a maximum of R2.7million or 10% of the employer’s turnover, whichever is greater.
The impact of the amendment is significant. Employers can expect:
- An increase in disputes due to the extension of the CCMA’s jurisdiction to arbitrate certain unfair discrimination disputes.
- A significant monetary risk for contravening the Act.
It is important for employers to be familiar with the amendments to employment equity laws and to implement measures to eliminate risks arising from the amendments. Let us know how we can help you.