Government makes big BEE target changes

Business Tech reports that the Department of Employment and Labour has recently revised its employment equity targets; including a renewed focus on senior and top management levels and replacing specific targets for African, coloured, Indian and white workers. Back in April 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Employment Equity Amendment Act into law, which amended the Employment Equity Act of 1998. The amendments empowered the Minister of Labour, Thulas Nxesi, to identify and set employment equity numerical targets for each national economic sector.

In May 2023, Nxesi published the draft five-year sectoral numerical targets for the identified national economic sectors and allowed interested parties to comment. Broadly, the goal is to push all companies that employ more than 50 people to transform and have their workforces more demographically representative, especially in top and senior management In a legal note written by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer, the group explained that the republished regulation “continues to focus on top and senior management as well as professionally qualified and skilled levels and people with disabilities.”

There are no targets that have been set out for the semi-skilled and unskilled levels. “However, designated employers are required to take into account the economically active population demographics in respect of these levels,” said the firm. Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer said that the republished regulation also removes the distinction between provincial and national targets. The republished targets reflect a single target for each economic sector differentiated on the basis of gender only, rather than being diffracted between separate provincial and national targets.

It also removes the distinction between designated racial groups (African, Coloured, and Indian). The target now relates to “designated groups” which is defined in the Employment Equity Act as black people (Africans, Coloured, and Indians), women and people with disabilities who are citizens of South Africa by birth or descent.

For example, under the new draft regulations, it is proposed that at least 40% of the top management of a manufacturing company must be from designated groups, while at least 15% must be women. This is compared to the previous targets, which outlined that the top management of a national manufacturing company had to be 35% African (22% male, 13% female), 4% coloured (2.5% male, 1.5% female), 1% Indian (0.7% male, 0.4% female) and 8% white (4.5% male, 3.5% female).

The department said in a statement last year that these seek to boost their targets because “the status of the progress made in the implementation of affirmative action for the achievement of the equitable representation of employees from the economically disadvantaged groups in the workplace remains slow.” “The act further facilitates the implementation of affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by Africans, Coloureds and Indians for both genders including white women,” it added. The department has opened the draft regulations on the proposed sectoral numerical targets up for public comment until May 2, 2024.

by Seth Thorne

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