The slow pace at which employers are implementing the Employment Equity Act has led the Department of Labour to adopt a carrot-and-stick method to ensure equitable gender and race representation at the workplace, the Portfolio Committee on Labour was told.
Presenting the Commission for Employment Equity's annual report to the parliamentary committee here, Department of Labour deputy director-general Les Kettledas said limited compliance with the act has forced the department to consider alternative methods of enforcing it.
"Employers who fail to comply with the act will be dealt with through the courts, but those who have excelled in developing and implementing employment equity programmes will be rewarded," he said.
On the other hand, those employers who deliberately disregard the act will be issued with a court order.
Should they disobey the order, they would be in contempt of the court and could be fined at least R500 000.
The Employment Equity Act, which was promulgated in 1998, is aimed at creating an equitable representation at the workplace.
Among other things, the act calls for more women to be appointed to decision-making positions; more black people to be appointed in those areas of work that were previously reserved for white people; and that people with disabilities should not be discriminated against in the workplace.
The Commission's annual report for 2003/4 indicates that very little has been done by employers to achieve the objectives of the Act.
According to the report, white people account for 72.2% of top management positions while black people account for only 23.8% - down from 25.1% in the previous year.
Representation of women in top management positions amount to a paltry 14.1%. People with disabilities remain at about 1% of the total workforce.
By Clive Ndou - BuaNews