SAMED has made a submission on the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, proposing changes that would enable the industry to participate meaningfully in economic transformation, and has requested an opportunity to make oral representations.

The Bill gives the Minister of Labour wide powers to determine industrial sectors and set employment equity targets for each sector. Individual companies would be required to align their individual employment equity plans with these targets. At the same time, the Bill affords a wide range of SMMEs increased flexibility in terms of equity by excluding them from the category of “designated employers”.

SAMED’s submission underscores concerns raised by various commentators about the possibility of sectors being too widely defined by the Minister. This runs the risk of setting sectoral equity targets that are irrelevant and unachievable for many companies. We focused on:

  • The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system that exists in the principal Act. SAMED argued for further refinement of the SIC classes in order to cater for the diversity within the medtech industry. We contended that similar employers should have to meet similar equity requirements. We also highlighted inconsistencies in the SIC.
  • Setting of targets for occupation levels, sub-sectors and regions. SAMED recommended that sector targets should be set by the Minister in consultation with industry bodies and that realistic time frames should be set for consultations.
  • Issuing of compliance certificates. Certification of employers as compliant with equity targets will be linked to tendering for state contracts. SAMED envisages that possible backlogs could occur in a rush for certificates by providers wishing to compete for major state tenders. The Bill is unclear on the process for obtaining compliance certificates, and SAMED has recommended that the process and timelines be explicitly set out.