By: Nkosinathi Buthelezi

Why employment equity

South Africa has a legacy of discrimination in relation to race, gender and disability. The legacy saw access to opportunities denied in relation to education, employment, promotion and wealth creation to the majority of South Africans. The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1989 (EEA) was passed to address this legacy and has the following objectives:

  • To eliminate all forms of discrimination in the workplace which are based on race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth
  • To redress any imbalances and injustices created by the policies and practices of unfair discrimination
  • To strive to achieve equitable representation at all occupational levels
  • To strive so that appropriate employees from the designated groups Nave access to enhanced training and development opportunities within business
  • To ensure that affirmative action’s measures are implemented to ensure that suitably qualified people from designated groups (African, Coloured, Indian, women, and people living with disabilities) have equal employment opportunities and representation at all levels.

SAICA supports the underpinning principles of the EEA. However, all placements in the organisation will be made on merit and person/job suitability and compatibility.

Why should employers implement employment equity

EEA is e legislative requirement. However a lot of companies are embracing the Act over and above just compliance. They are positioning EE as a business imperative. Introduction of EE in the workplace is one of the mechanisms the employer can utilise to address the past imbalances. The eradication of discrimination and entrenchment of equity will lay a solid foundation for sustainable development in South Africa and reduce the economic divide between the haves and the have-nots.

How is the employment equity act related to other acts

The EEA together with Skills Development Act, (SDA) supports human resources development in the workplace. The two acts are intertwined as one promotes equity and the other skills development and growth in the workplace.


The onus is on the employer to not only ensure that EEA is implemented as required by legislation, but to also go beyond mere compliance. In the past the Department of Labour (DoL) has imposed stiff fines and penalties for non-compliance to a maximum of R500 000. The employer is expected to submit an annual EE report to the DoL; spelling out its EE plan, numerical targets, goals and affirmative action measures required to implement the plan.