/ 4 October 2010

Companies still unaware of equity reporting

Many companies are still unaware of their reporting obligations in terms of the Employment Equity Act.

Business law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr said on Monday that the deadline for manual reporting to the department of labour was October 1.

The deadline for electronic reporting via the department of labour’s website was January 15 2011, said Gillian Lumb, director in the Employment Practice Group.

“However, employers should not wait until January to prepare their report as they have a lot of work to do between now and then.”

In terms of the Act, designated employers have to submit a report to the Department on their progress in eliminating unfair discrimination in the workplace and implementing affirmative action measures to address the imbalances in the representation of black people, women and people with disabilities in the workplace.

According to Lumb, a designated employer included any employer that employed 50 or more employees, or who employed less than 50 employees but had a total annual threshold equal to or above the applicable turnover which ranged from R2 -million to R25-million depending on the sector into which the business fell.

Lumb said both large and small companies were required to submit their reports this year.

Not just filling in a report
Large companies — those with more than 150 employees — had to submit their reports every year.

“What many employers don’t realise is that it is not simply a matter of filling in the report, but also the work that has to happen before the form is filled in.”

Lumb said employers had to compile an employment equity plan and conduct a workplace analysis.

Employees had to be consulted on the analysis, the plan and the report.

“The department of labour is carrying out inspections on employers to ensure compliance with the Act in particular to ensure that employees are being consulted in the process and an employment equity plan has been compiled.”

It was not enough to simply fill in the employment equity report.

“The employment equity plan and consultation process are paramount to compliance with the Act both of which take management time and expertise.”

Lumb said the employment equity reports asked for details such as the profile of the workforce — gender, race and disabilities of employees as well as details of recruitment, promotion and termination, among other questions.

Barriers to affirmative action and measures to overcome this, was another section dealt with in the report.

“Not knowing about the legislation or the reporting deadline is not an excuse not to comply.

“At this late stage, companies will have to report electronically as the deadline for manual reporting has passed.”

Lumb said electronic reporting would give employers a few more months to consult with employees, conduct a workplace analysis, compile an employment equity plan and collate the information needed for the report.

“If they don’t report, inspections may be conducted by the Department, compliance orders issued and in the event of ongoing non-compliance there is a likelihood that they will be fined.” — Sapa