Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The cabinet has approved the publication for public comment of a draft law allowing sector-specific numerical targets to be set for employment equity.

Currently the Employment Equity Act provides for a system of self-imposed targets that companies set on the basis of the national economically active population. However, this system has not been effective in transforming the economy and ensuring that more blacks and more women are employed in the top echelons of companies.

The changes proposed in the Employment Equity Amendment Bill provides that the minister of labour, in consultation with the stakeholders of a particular sector, will set employment equity sector-specific numerical targets. The bill also seeks to strengthen compliance mechanisms.

Chair of the Employment Equity Commission Tabea Kabinde said on Monday sector-specific targets were necessary because business was not achieving the demanding targets determined on the basis of the national economically active population. It is considered desirable to set targets which are more achievable.

"In an ideal world the demographics [in the workplace] should represent the economically active population in different companies. That is what we are aiming for, but it is just too far. People are struggling to achieve it, which is why we decided to look at what different sectors are doing and what has been achievable by some of the companies within a sector and use that as a benchmark …

"Sector targets are more realistic to reach because they talk to what peers are achieving within the sector," Kabinde said. There will be engagement with stakeholders to set the sectoral targets. This system will also deal with the problem of companies setting targets lower than what is possible in the sector.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za