The Employment Equity Amendment Act

The Department of Employment and Labour has recently updated its objectives regarding employment equity, with a particular emphasis on enhancing representation at senior and top managerial levels. This entails a shift from previously set targets for African, coloured, Indian, and white workers.

In April 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Employment Equity Amendment Act, which brought modifications to the existing Employment Equity Act of 1998 and was implemented in September 2023.

These revisions granted Minister of Labour Thulas Nxesi the authority to establish numerical targets for employment equity within various national economic sectors.

Subsequently, in May 2023, Nxesi unveiled the draft regulations for the five-year sectoral numerical goals for the identified economic sectors, which was open for public comment until 30 April 2024.

Broadly, the goal is to push all companies that employ more than 50 people to transform and have their workforces more demographically representative, especially in top and senior management.

The sectoral numerical proposal has the greatest impact on top and senior management as well as professionally qualified and skilled levels and people with disabilities. There are no targets that have been set out for the semi-skilled and unskilled levels.

The republished targets reflect a single target for each economic sector differentiated on the basis of gender only, rather than being diffracted between separate provincial and national targets.

It also removes the distinction between designated racial groups (African, Coloured, and Indian) The target now relates to “designated groups” which is defined in the Employment Equity Act as black people (Africans, Coloured, and Indians), women and people with disabilities who are citizens of South Africa by birth or descent.

For example, under the new draft regulations, it is proposed that at least 40% of the top management of a manufacturing company must be from designated groups, while at least 15% must be women.

This is compared to the previous targets, which outlined that the top management of a national manufacturing company had to be 35% African (22% male, 13% female), 4% coloured (2.5% male, 1.5% female), 1% Indian (0.7% male, 0.4% female) and 8% white (4.5% male, 3.5% female).

Last year, the department emphasized that these adjustments aim to elevate their targets due to the sluggish progress in implementing affirmative action, which is essential for achieving equitable representation of employees from economically disadvantaged groups in workplaces.

Below is the comprehensive list of the 5-year numerical targets for each employment sector.