New equity targets invoke ghost of Jimmy Manyi

2014-03-02 06:00

Employers may soon have to consider national demographics ahead of the ­racial make-up of their region when ­hiring staff.

New regulations gazetted on Friday by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant seek to set down exactly what ­“equitable representation” means in the Employment Equity Act.

Oliphant proposes a formula that turns the target for professional occupations – law, engineering and accounting, for instance – and senior management jobs into just the national racial make-up of the economically active population.

This negates the traditional caveat that “regional” demographics can also be considered.

The lower occupational levels can still rely on regional demographics, but to a far lesser degree.

In practice, this will only have a significant effect in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape, where almost the ­entire economically active coloured population resides.

The regulations implicitly endorse the controversial comments made by Jimmy Manyi in 2011 when he was still director-general of the department of labour and suggested that coloureds were “overconcentrated” in the Western Cape and should spread to other provinces.

The regulations propose that small companies with fewer than 150 employees can also use the diluted “regional” demographics as guidance for the ­“professionally qualified” occupations.

The proposed new formula comes shortly after the act was amended in January to remove other considerations employers could invoke when they do not meet the prescribed demographic representation.

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