Employment Equity Committee: The role of an Employment Equity Committee in 2021
When implementing an Employment Equity Plan, your committee plays a vital role in your organisation when submitting the annual progress report and addressing barriers, like discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace.
Employment Equity is like a Tetris game; each block differs but fits perfectly in the space when adjusted. As a designated employer, you need to implement and comply with the regulations according to the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998. You also need to appoint and train according to your organisation’s culture, policy, and Labour Relations Act. Your committee has the responsibility to implement these regulations and training continuously. Your committee might be the most important employees in your business, therefore essential to appoint the right individual/s.
Every designated employer is required to design and implement an employment Equity plan. According to the Employment Equity act 55 of 1998, the purpose of the Employment Equity is to enable the employer “to achieve reasonable progress towards employment Equity”, to assist in eliminating unfair discrimination in the workplace, and to achieve equitable representation of employees from designated groups through affirmative action measures.
Who needs to comply with Employment Equity?
Employment Equity and affirmative action apply to all designated employers and their employees, particularly those from designated groups. Designated employers are:
- Employers who employ 50 or more employees,
- Employers who employ less than 50 employees but whose annual turnover exceeds or equals the amounts in schedule 4 of the EEA,
- Or an employer who has been declared a designated employer in terms of a collective agreement.
The Committee’s Responsibility and Purpose
An employment Equity plan must set out the steps that the employer plans to follow to achieve the objectives addressed in the act. To assist employers, the Department of Labour published a Code of Good Practice on the Preparation, Implementation and Monitoring of Employment Equity Plans, which is the responsibility of the employment equity committee. The Department of Labour published a user guide to the employment Equity act, detailing 10 steps to Preparing and Implementing Plan an employment Equity plan. As an employer, you should possess at least the Code of Good Practice and the User Guide.
The primary purpose of an Employment Equity Committee is to ensure that the employment Equity Plan, whether it be a two-, or five-year Plan, must be implemented and that all affirmative action takes place where needed.
An Employment Equity committee consists of the Employment Equity manager and employees as the committee members. These members should represent the departments and specific occupational levels within the company. It is the EE Manger’s job to appoint these members of the committee.
Adson is a consulting agency assisting Employment Equity Committees to submit their annual EE Plan. Consultants we cannot take over as Employment Equity Manager or be a committee member as the company must employ them. However, helping to conduct the quarterly meetings alongside the EE Manager is an important job. Frequent meetings help the committee focus on what has been done in the workplace, what the Plan entails, and what affirmative actions need to take place.
Another essential part is to have an open and transparent conversation so that every committee member feels that they can speak out about matters that concern their employees. Honest conversations encourage the members to stand up for the groups they represent and create an open discussion without biases or discrimination.
The committee is responsible for developing the employment equity plan by setting annual targets that align with the EAP. After the Plan development and approval, they implement this Plan by developing policies and procedures while ensuring compliance with the Employment Equity Act as well as the Labour Relations Act.
Thus, an EE Committee plays a vital part in a company’s annual targets and compliance with the EEA. Without these meetings, the EE manager would not be able to achieve the needed targets or assess whether the affirmative actions are working.
The goal of the committee is the same as that of the Employment Equity act itself. Namely to promote constitutional right of:
- eliminate unfair discrimination,
- achieve a diverse workforce,
- and encourage economic development.
The big difference is that these goals are only directed at their workplace and not outside of the company for the committee. To be successful and achieve your goals as the committee, one must be well educated in what the Employment Equity Act entails and the potential issues that may surface when implementing policies and procedures to meet these targets. As the EE committee, you should address your barriers through the means of training. It is essential to communicate with the employees regarding employment equity and a safe format to speak out about discrimination or sexual harassment.
Address your employment equity barriers through training.