Both the Employment Equity Act, 2014, and the 2014 Regulations came into effect on 1 August 2014. The 2014 Regulations replace the 2009 Regulations.
This is the first amendment to the Employment Equity Act since 1998. The amendments include, among others:
- the amendment of section 6(1) to prohibit differentiation on "any other arbitrary ground" in addition to the grounds listed in that section (which include race, gender, religion, language etc)
- changes to section 11, which deals with the onus of proof
- the inclusion of a provision dealing with equal pay for work of equal value
- changes to the manner in which progress towards employment equity is monitored and enforced
- the introduction of a fine linked to the turnover of a designated employer in respect of certain violations of Chapter 3 of the Employment Equity Act.
The Act also schedules turnover thresholds that are applicable to designated employer sectors including the following:
- Agriculture – R6 million
- Mining and quarrying – R22.5 million
- Construction – R15 million
- Transport, storage and communications – R30 million
- Finance and business services – R30 million
- Retail and motor trade and repair services – R45 million.
In terms of the amendment a designated employer that employs fewer than 150 employees must submit its first report to the director general within 12 months after the commencement of the Act or on the date on which the employer becomes a designated employer.
The Act includes a schedule of maximum permissible fines to be imposed for contravention of the Act including:
- R1.5 million for no previous contravention
- R2.7 million for the fifth contravention in respect of the same provision within three years.
Interestingly, the 2014 Regulations, which were published for comment in February this year, do not include the controversial draft regulation stipulating that national demographics should also be applied in provinces with different population profiles. However, the Regulations now contain a definition of the term "Regional Economically Active Population" (which was not the case in the initial draft Regulations). When an employer conducts an analysis into section 19 of the Act, the employer may refer thereto (in the EEA8) together with the national economically active population. This aspect is likely to give rise to some uncertainty.