Employment Equity Amendment Act 2022: Key Changes Impacting South African Employers

By Sharusha Moodley

On April 14, 2023, the Employment Equity Amendment Act 4 of 2022 (EEA Amendment) came into effect, bringing significant changes to South Africa’s Employment Equity Act 66 of 1998 (EEA). These amendments aim to enhance the promotion of equity and inclusivity in the workplace. This article provides a brief overview of the key amendments and their implications for employers in the country.

Expanded Definition of “Designated Employer“: One notable amendment is the redefinition of a “designated employer.” Previously, this term considered both the number of employees and the annual turnover of a business. However, the EEA Amendment now defines a designated employer as one that employs more than 50 employees, irrespective of the business’s annual turnover. This change may result in some employers no longer having a legal obligation to actively address underrepresented designated groups or promote affirmative action.

Inclusion of “People with Disabilities”: The EEA Amendment expands the definition of “people with disabilities” to include those with an intellectual impairment that substantially limits their employment prospects. By recognizing a broader range of disabilities, this amendment seeks to provide greater support and opportunities for individuals facing intellectual challenges.

Introduction of National Economic Sectors: Section 15A has been introduced into the EEA, granting the Minister of Employment and Labour the authority to identify national economic sectors. This step aims to ensure targeted equity measures in specific industries or sectors where disparities may exist. The identification of these sectors will enable the Minister to set numerical targets tailored to address equity issues within each sector.

Broadened Powers of the Labour Inspector: Under the amended legislation, labour inspectors now have wider powers. In cases where an employer fails to prepare an employment equity plan, a compliance order can be issued. This measure aims to enforce compliance with the law and promote the development and implementation of comprehensive employment equity plans by employers.

The Minister of Employment and Labour is expected to commence consultations and publish draft national economic sectors, along with their corresponding targets. Employers should stay informed about these developments and actively participate in the consultation process to ensure their voices are heard and to understand how these amendments may specifically impact their business sector.

The Employment Equity Amendment Act 2022 introduces important changes to the Employment Equity Act in South Africa, with the aim of fostering greater workplace equity and inclusivity. Employers need to familiarise themselves with the amended legislation, particularly the redefined designated employer category and the forthcoming national economic sector codes. By proactively staying informed and engaging in the consultation process, employers can navigate these changes effectively while promoting a more equitable and diverse work environment.

Please contact Sharusha Moodley for all your employment law issues.

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