“Don’t put it off”, that’s the warning from SEIFSA to its members and all other companies within the Metals and Engineering Sector.
The Department of Labour has ramped up its enforcement mechanisms in a concerted effort to force compliance with the country’s labour laws. Although busy, with companies fulfilling the last orders for the year or trying to make targets with one last push, the October-December period is also the time to compile and submit Employment Equity Reports online.
The harsh reality is that The Department of Labour’s (DoL’s) deadline looms large on 15 January 2019; with the Metals and Engineering Sector, amongst others, shutting down towards the middle of December until the second week in January, companies cannot afford to be caught short. Human Resource professionals must lead the charge because the Department can impose – and has previously imposed – fines of R1.5 million.
“We are here to help,” says SEIFSA Human Capital and Skills Development Executive Melanie Mullholland. “Our auditing, training and consulting services are personal and can really enable the focus of a company’s reporting capability. We prepare you for exactly what the Department of Labour is looking for”.
SEIFSA’s support speaks directly to our mission: the Federation needs to ensure that its member companies have the tools to transform themselves so that companies can focus on their core business.
“Transformation makes business sense,” says Ms Mulholland.
During the launch of the 18th Employment Equity Report, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant had this to say:
The trouble is that, broadly speaking, we are not making much progress. There are times when one feels that even the EE Plans are put together grudgingly, with no real will to implement them. Twenty years since the Employment Equity Act was introduced, there is not much to show for it.The word “grudgingly” and the phrase “no real will” should worry businesses. It speaks to the Government’s perceived attitude of business. It also demonstrates why there is a renewed appetite for ensuring compliance.
“All of us must commit to transformation; we simply must lift our respective games, especially in the Metals and Engineering sector”, says Mullholland.
“We are resolute about scaling up inspection and enforcement and targeting those areas that will give us the bigger impact”, said Minister Oliphant.
In October 2018 the Department of Labour’s Employment Equity Directorate embarked on Employment Equity roadshows in the form of Public Hearings throughout the country. Its focus is on the amendments to Section 53 (the ability to trade with Government) and proposed sectorial targets, contained in the Employment Equity Act Amendment Bill and the Draft Regulations released in September 2018. SEIFSA strongly recommends that Sections 24 Managers, Human Resource (HR) practitioners, especially those in the Metals and Engineering Sector, attend these hearings to ensure that they stay fully informed of the requirements and implications for businesses that do not comply.
In the meantime, let’s begin with what your company needs to start doing immediately.
- Designated employers that employ 50 or more employees or have an annual turnover that exceeds or equals the amounts in schedule 4 of the EEA.
- For the Manufacturing Sector, the threshold is R30 million.
- Check the process below
- Communicate and Consultwith the workforce;
- Establish a committee representative of all occupational levels;
- Conduct an analysis to ensure a Review all Policies and any potential barriers;
- Prepare an Employment Equity Plan and Monitor and Evaluate targets against Goals.
- Submit the Reportonline on or before 15 January.
- It is vitally important to follow the practices set out above as it mitigates risk and gives your company a better chance to be compliant. Non-compliance to this Act attracts fines and penalties.
- The Department of Labour’s (DoL’s) online portal for EmploymentEquity submissions is open – CEOs and Section 24 Managers receive an activation code from DoL to access the portal.
SECTION 53: Alert! Your business’s ability to trade with Government is at Risk
The amendments, particularly Section 53, should make the Metals and Engineering Industry stand to attention.
Even though you may have long-standing contracts with Government Departments and related entities, your business will now need a Department of Labour (DoL) certificate to prove compliance with the Employment Equity Act. This could effectively see many in the industry potentially missing out on lucrative infrastructure projects under way or being planned, such as those announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the stimulus package.
Those who are ready and compliant will have an enormous advantage of other businesses that are lagging behind.
“This is the ‘carrot’ that must incentivize the industry to get its house in order. It certainly adds weight to the phrase that transformation is good for business,” says Ms Mulholland.
SEIFSA plans to play a pivotal role in getting the Metals and Engineering Sector ready for this new reality. Through its relationship with the Department of Labour, its advice, training, consultation and audits will be strategic tools for members of the Federation and the industry in general.
Trying to achieve employment equity and BBBEE targets in the absence of an integrated employment equity and diversity management strategy could be one of the main reasons for the lack of progress in the industry. There is too much at stake, so don’t waste time – and don’t be left behind because transformation makes business sense.