Hitting them where it hurts

2009-08-29 07:56

EMPLOYMENT equity laws will be beefed up and stiff penalties for

defaulting companies will be introduced soon. That is if Jimmy Manyi

has his way.

Manyi, the chairperson of the Employment Equity

Commission and director-general designate of the labour department, has

threatened non-compliers with prosecution for four years, but the law

let him down as it lacked the bite to punish offenders.


now that he’s earned himself a government position and a document

setting out draft amendments to the equity laws and penalties has been

tabled at the National Economic Development and Labour Council

(Nedlac), Manyi is optimistic.

This week, he told City

Press that if the proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act were

passed into law, employers that continued to exclude and marginalise

blacks in their management structures would be hit where it hurt most –

the bottom line.

“The only language that companies

understand is the income statement. If they don’t see an effect on

their income statements they will not understand. With these proposed

amendments, we will hit their bottom line hard,” he said.


month ago, the proposed amendments, which call for non-compliers to be

fined 10% of their turnover and to be excluded from lucrative tenders,

were tabled at Nedlac.

It appears government ran out of patience as was

evidenced by the broad support Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana was

given over the mooted changes.

Manyi said the proposals

also call for the state to deprive serious offenders access to

lucrative tenders. State departments would be given the power to refuse

to do business with or cancel a tender with such suppliers.


all goes well, the new legislation will hit the labour market by June.

In the meantime we will name and shame companies individually instead

of naming them en masse,” Manyi said.

Nedlac, a council

comprising labour, business, government, and civil society groups, will

discuss the proposals before they are sent to Parliament where, if

accepted, they will be made into law. The Nedlac discussions could take

up to three months and the parliamentary process six to eight months,

he said.

Manyi said the R1-million fine imposed on companies

– contained in the current legislation introduced in 1998 – represented

a slap on the wrist.

“This is petty cash. We want those

companies that are not playing ball to be punished and those that are

supportive of the law to be praised.”

He said the government had built up its capacity to deal with non-compliers.


government departments have procurement managers. These managers must

ask for proof from the Department of Labour to check if the supplier

has complied. If the supplier has not complied, the tender must not be

awarded to the offending supplier.”

For nine years, the

commission published reports that showed that affirmative action was

taking place in South Africa’s workplace at a snail’s pace. This week

it again released a report that showed that Africans, who make up 74.1%

of the economically active population, held 13.6% of top management

positions and 17.3% of senior management posts.

Manyi said

for a company to be considered to be in serious breach of the

Employment Equity Act, it had to break every law in the book –

including failing to assign a senior manager to monitor employment

equity and human resources managers who fail to consult with labour

when drawing up affirmative action plans.

However, the amendments will not apply to small businesses that employ less than 50 people.


companies are not required to report their progress on employment

equity, but are required to comply with the Labour Relations Act and

the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Firms employing more than 50 workers are expected to

report on progress once every two years, and those with up to 150

employees every year.

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