The President has proclaimed 1 August 2014 to be the date on which the amended Employment Equity Act will come into operation. The proclamation was published in the Government Gazette on 25 July 2014.
The salient aspects of the amendments include:
- The “listed grounds” in respect of which unfair discrimination is prohibited has been expanded to include “any other arbitrary ground”.
- Specific provisions dealing with equal pay for equal work has been included, confirming that it is unfair to pay people who perform the same work different amounts based on one of the listed grounds.
- An employer must now take steps to progressively reduce disproportionate income differentials or unfair discrimination in respect of terms and conditions of employment.
- The definition of “designated group” has been revised to limit this group to people who are South African citizens by birth or descent or who were naturalised and became citizens before 27 April 1994, or if after that date only if they were precluded by apartheid policies.
- All designated employers must in the future submit Employment Equity Reports on the first working day of October each year.
- The table of fines for non-compliance has increased for a first contravention from R500k to R1.5m, up to a fourth contravention from R900k to R2.7m.
- Representation of suitably qualified persons from designated groups in the workforce will in the future be assessed with reference to regional and national demographics only.
- A designated employer must take reasonable steps to train suitably qualified people from designated groups.
- A designated employer must take reasonable steps to appoint and promote suitably qualified people from designated groups.
- Reasonable steps taken by a designated employer to implement the employment equity plan will be a factor when assessing compliance with the Act.
- Certain unfair discrimination disputes may now be referred to the CCMA for arbitration.
- In certain unfair discrimination disputes the employer will bear the onus of proving that the discrimination did not occur or was fair.