In reality, employment equity represents a regulatory challenge for South African businesses and the only truly effective way to ensure compliance and benefit is to have a plan in place and follow it proactively.

This is according to HR and HCM experts at services and specialist CRS Technologies who say the country’s labour law is clear when it comes to employment equity, and there are legislative requirements to which ‘designated employers’ must adhere to.

Designated employers, in labour terms, is defined as businesses with an employee headcount over 50, a turnover above the industry threshold and/ or a municipality/ organ of state.

Ian McAlister, GM of CRS Technologies, says these requirements include several straightforward instructions like having to consult with employees on Employee Equity matters, implement affirmative action measures, and conduct an analysis regarding barriers to employment equity and identify areas of under-representation.

However, it is the development and management of an employment equity plan that forms the crux of this set of regulations, specifically relevant targets and goals to be achieved.

The regulations have been put in place to guide businesses to ensure that they fulfil several criteria, chief amongst which is to submit employment equity reports to the Director General at the Department of Labour.

McAlister warns that this is a mission-critical function and businesses cannot afford to ‘drop the ball’ when it comes to the development of the plan or its enforcement.

The designated employer must determine the duration of the plan, the procedure used to monitor and evaluate the plan, the dispute resolution procedure regarding the plan, as well as the appointment of senior manager responsible for the plan and finally submit the EE report to the Director General, he explains.

CRS Technologies reminds the market that the submission deadline is 01 October for manual submissions and 15 January (2018) for online submissions.

“It is very important that business owners take a proactive stance on this and don’t delay because non-compliance carries with it severe consequences. From two percent or R1 500 000 for the first contravention right up to R2 700 000 or ten percent for the fifth contravention,” says McAlister.

CRS Technologies has the experience, expertise and resources to assist businesses navigate the various processes involved in compliance with employment equity regulation, as well as the Code of Good Practice, as outlined in the Government Gazette 40817 of 28 April 2017.

These steps include communication, awareness and consultation, conducting an analysis, developing the employment equity plan and dispute resolution.

“Our message to the market is ‘don’t wait until it is too late’ — rather engage with an experienced HR and HCM specialist consultancy who can assist and ensure compliance, and avoid any repercussions for the business. Employment equity is a serious matter, is taken seriously by labour and government, and is something that every business has to take cognisance of — irrespective of trade, industry or sector,” McAlister adds.