Workplace discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissals still rife in SA, warns deputy minister

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  • Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Boitumelo Moloi, said amendments to the Employment Equity Act to stop workplace discrimination remained urgent. 
  • The Commission for Employment Equity's latest report highlighted the importance of additional training for those responsible for responding to workplace discrimination and harassment.
  • Of the 1 777 Employment Equity Act-linked referrals received by the CCMA from 1 April 2021 until 31 January 2022, the report found that 1 087 were for unfair dismissal on arbitrary grounds.

Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Boitumelo Moloi, said the amendments to the Employment Equity Act aimed at stopping workplace discrimination and harassment were more urgent than ever, as shown by the Commission for Employment Equity's (CEE) annual report.

The deputy minister was speaking at an event releasing the CEE annual report and launching the Employment Equity Instruments, the new Code of Good Practice on the Elimination and Prevention of Harassment in the World of Work, on Thursday.

The release of the CEE report highlighted "the importance of appropriate ongoing training of those appointed" to address harassment and the need for experienced legal practitioners to provide guidance and mentorship.

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The code of ethics was developed to protect employees of businesses by addressing harassment that occurs in South African workplaces due to discrimination.

"It is suggested further that organisations such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) provide training to those who represent parties in matters relating to harassment to strengthen the support structures and thereby enhance accessibility to this often challenging area of the law," the report said.

In a breakdown of the 1 777 Employment Equity Act-linked referrals received by the CCMA from 01 April 2021 until 31 January 2022, the report found that 1 087 were for unfair dismissal on arbitrary grounds, while 359 were over "equal work for equal pay".

Complaints of discrimination based on race, gender, pregnancy and disability were still referred to the CCMA in double digits.

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Moloi said the code is being published against the backdrop of the country's ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention 190 on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work.

"South Africa is the 10th country in the world and the fourth country in Africa to ratify this ILO convention, which is the first International Treaty to recognise the right of everyone to the world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence," said Moloi.

Moloi said the level of gender-based violence in broader South African society was "catastrophic" and that the government needed to provide tangible solutions to the challenge in all spheres of South African public life.

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