Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has defended the proposed amendment to the current Employment Equity Act which is aimed at strengthening the government’s ability to enforce racial equality in the workplace.

The Employment Equity Amendment Bill was adopted by parliament last week amid fierce objection from the opposition Democratic Alliance which called it a job-destroying jackhammer.

The Employment Equity Act was passed in 1998 to transform the labour landscape so that it reflects the country’s demographics. But over two decades later, very little has changed. According to the latest annual Employment Equity Report by the Commission of Employment Equity, Blacks make up only 15 percent of top and senior management positions in the country.

And, women occupy around 25 percent of senior management positions.

Nxesi says, “The new Employment Equity law is expected to be finalised and come into effect in March next year. It will give the Minister of Labour and Employment the power to set sector-specific Employment Equity targets and to issue Employment Equity Compliance Certificates to companies vying for government tenders.”

The Department of Labour is currently conducting workshops countrywide to inform employers about the changes that are coming.

Minister Nxesi says so far, employers are responding well.

On the highly controversial issue of introducing a compulsory COVID- 19 vaccine pass system at the workplace, Nxesi says the country’s labour laws do not allow companies to do that.

Nxesi says all employers must engage their employees thoroughly with regards to any vaccination policy they wish to follow.