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Real Transformation Makes Business Sense

As the Employment Equity reporting season approached, the Department of Employment and Labour, in conjunction with the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) executed a nationwide roadshow in the forms of a series of workshops which were presented at various key locations around the country. The goal of the 2022 annual roadshow, which was branded under the theme of “Real transformation makes business sense”, is to create awareness regarding compliance to The Employment Equity Act through the sharing of the most recent data regarding on trends of Employment Equity (EE) in the workplaces and related matters, information sharing on EE disputes as well sharing information which was aimed at supporting designated employers to prepare and successfully submit accurate online EE reports to the Department.

Aimed at Employers or Heads of organisations, Academics, Assigned Senior Managers, Consultative committee members, Human Resource Practitioners, Trade Unions representatives and employees, the workshops’ programme covered the below topics:  

  • Code of Good practice on the prevention and elimination of harassment in the workplace
  • Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration: Case law on all types of harassment
  • 2021-22 EE Annual report (22nd CEE Annual Report and 2022 online reporting)
With specific attention on developments within EE, particularly in terms of Harassment in the workplace, designated employers will recognise harassment (formally labelled under Sexual harassment and now extended to include all forms of harassment) as being one of the key areas which EE focuses on as part of the reporting process. Designated Employers must report annually regarding any barriers to fair practices within the workplace and propose affirmative action measures which they will implement to eliminate those identified barriers, along with specific deadlines to meet those goals. For the purposes of Employment Equity reporting, designated employers have been provided a list of areas covering the life span of the employee within their employment cycle, where fair practices, processes and procedures must be implemented and adhered to.

Department of Employment and Labour Deputy Director for EE, Masilo Lefika, presenting on the Code of Good Practice on the prevention and elimination of harassment in the workplace that was published on 18 March 2022, said the issue of harassment is an emotional one and needs to be dealt with sensitivity and acted upon immediately when reported. The Code describes harassment as unwanted conduct, which impairs dignity which may present in the form of physical, verbal, or psychological conduct.

“Employers have an obligation to act when harassment and bullying is alleged. In addition to disciplinary sanctions against the perpetrator, a complainant of harassment has the right to lay a criminal charge or institute civil proceedings against the alleged perpetrator,” Lefika warned.

Harassment is described by Employment and Labour as any unwanted conduct which results in the diminishing of the dignity of another in the workplace. This includes making personal comments about, winking at, touching, telling another person or group of people that they are sexy, or having conversation with sexual undertones in the workplace, can be constituted as harassment.

Lefika entreated employers to implement harassment policies which are effectively communicated to employees for the benefit of all concerned. As a member of International Labour Organization (ILO) South Africa has signed in alliance with the ILO Convention 190 which compels complying signatory nations, to adopt the ILO’s lead by implementing inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approaches to the inhibition and abolition of workplace violence and harassment.

Lefika emphasised that when it comes to dealing with alleged cases of harassment, employers must exercise a high degree of confidentiality said recommended the availability of counselling and support programmes for employees as a standard practice.