Is government finally getting tough on EE?

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The government has warned employers who fail to comply with employment equity targets, saying that they will soon face the full wrath of law.

However those employers who are making strides to meet the employment equity targets will be awarded with certificates of compliance.

This was revealed at a roadshow organised by the Department of Labour to encourage employers in KwaZulu-Natal to comply with the government's ambitious employment equity targets.

The roadshows, which began in Gauteng this year are aimed at ensuring that designated employers comply with the Employment Equity Act, particularly the provisions relating to reporting and those on the employment of people with disabilities.

Experts representing different sectors of the economy on Wednesday expressed their disappointment on the lack of commitment to implement employment equity in the workplace.

Government however has vowed to accelerate the enforcement and implementation strategy by ensuring that employers who are making meaningful strides in meeting the transformation targets are recognised, while those who fail to comply will be named and shamed.

Since the implementation of the law in 1999 to eliminate unfair discrimination and promote affirmative action in the workplace, the rate of implementation has been very slow.

Reporting on the progress made since then Ms Nerine Kahn, senior executive manager in the Department of Labour, said the employment equity report for 2002 had indicated that only 6 990 employers reported, as opposed to 12 980 companies who reported in 2000.

The integration of people with disabilities into the labour market was also moving very slowly, raising concerns that the government would not meet its target by March 2005.

The act stipulates that companies should submit their employment equity reports by 1 October.

"As from next year we will have employment equity awards because there are several companies that have complied with transformation targets such as Sanlam, but have not been recognised. The award system will promote competition among employers and will expose those companies that fail to comply," said Ms Kahn.

Speaking about the challenges facing government, Ms Kahn said employees claimed lack of understanding of the law and the related consultation processes while employers seemed unwilling to engage employees in employment equity matters.

The Chief Operating Officer of Business Unity SA, Vic van Vuuren said organised business would support the name and shame list of companies that failed to comply.

"As organised business we support employment equity and we are not advocating for it to be taken away. We also understand that it is going to be around for a while because it is a business imperative. If we don't implement it the consequences will be dire.

"That is why we support the name and shame list of employers who are breaking the law, but we will also advocate education and support to those employers who need some assistance," said Mr van Vuuren.

The lack of efficient public transport has also been identified as a major stumbling block to the advancement of people in the workplace.

"The lack of efficient public transport is preventing the presence of people with disabilities in the workplace and the department of transport would have to look into it," said the Secretary General of the Disabled People of SA, Mzolisi ka Toni.

Source: BuaNews

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