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Employment Equity Guidance during COVID-19

Article written by Morné Hunlun (SEESA)

The COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on all the social and economic aspects of our country. As the virus spreads, uncertainty grows amongst employees and employers.

Even though these are very uncertain times, employers are still bound to comply with labour laws. The Employment Equity Act is one of the labour laws affected by this pandemic.

The question is, what impact does COVID-19 have on Employment Equity and how do we move forward?

The COVID-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on the economic growth, job creation and job retention of South Africa. This has a direct impact on the initially planned annual numerical targets in a designated employer’s Employment Equity plan. However, the Commission of Employment Equity encourages designated employers to strive to achieve their initially planned annual targets.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, designated employers should adhere to the following guidelines to ensure Employment Equity compliance:

All employers should ensure that they continue to comply with the provisions of all labour laws, especially in light of unfair treatment, unfair discrimination and equal employment opportunities.

Designated employers are encouraged to strive to achieve their initially planned annual Employment Equity targets for 2020. In the situation where designated employers can’t achieve or maintain their planned targets, the Employment Equity committee should be consulted and substantive reasons should be documented in the meeting minutes as to why the achievement is impossible. Designated employers should consider alternative methods to consult with the Employment Equity committee through online platforms to ensure continuity of quarterly meetings.

Any changes made to the initially planned annual Employment Equity targets after consultation must be shown in the Employment Equity analysis and the Employment Equity plan. The previous versions of the Employment Equity plan and analysis should be kept on record for inspection purposes.

Designated employers should still submit their annual Employment Equity reports as required from 1 September 2020 until 15 January 2021. The Department of Employment and Labour will use the data submitted in the Employment Equity reports to evaluate the impact that COVID-19 has had on the transformation agenda of South Africa’s labour market.

Designated employers who are no longer designated must notify the Director-General of the Department of Employment and Labour before 31 August 2020. To de-register, designated employers should make use of the EEA14 and select one of the reasons listed. (Mergers/Acquisitions, Labour Court Order, Liquidations/Judicial Winding, Insolvency, and other reasons). Other reasons may include, the employer implemented downsizing/retrenchments, or the company is under business rescue.

Designated employers should submit supporting documents along with the EEA14 to the Director-General of the Department of Employment and Labour. These supporting documents include, but are not limited to, the latest audited financial statements as proof of turnover, the record of payroll as proof of the number of employees or a motivation letter signed by CEO that states the reason for the de-registration.

Designated employers must ensure that they receive written confirmation from the Department of Employment and Labour confirming that they have approved the nonsubmission /deregistration. SEESA’s Skills Training department will assist you with the guidelines outlined by the Commission for Employment Equity. For more information, contact your dedicated SDF or you can visit SEESA’s website at www.seesa.co.za to learn more about our Skills Training services.

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