Letter: New bill only imposes more burdens and obstacles on employers - Cape Argus

29 July 2020 - The publication of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill last week is a stark reminder of the direction of the African National Congress’s economic policy, and the drivers behind it.

The publication of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill last week is a stark reminder of the direction of the African National Congress’s economic policy, and the drivers behind it.

The amendment ‘empowers’ (a telling word) the Minister of Employment and Labour to set demographic targets for employers. Failure to comply will mean not only forfeiting dealing with the state, but incurring fines of as much as 10% of turnover.

It’s difficult to see this as anything other than the introduction of quotas. For businesses struggling to survive in a hostile climate and an intrusive policy environment, this will be a major concern.

What this says about the thinking of government should raise an even louder alarm. In the face of an unemployment crisis compounded by the loss of three million positions under the pandemic and lockdown – the cliché of a ‘jobs bloodbath’ has never been so apposite – government has chosen to continue down a path that imposes additional burdens and obstacles to dealing with it.

It should be noted that the politicians and officials who have promoted this have pointed to statistics from the Employment Equity Commission. Yet vanishingly little has been presented to explain why these statistics are as they are – government’s actions rest on ideologically driven assumptions.

The country should be under no illusion that the threat here is to damage if not bankrupt firms for failing to adhere to government’s policy choices. As the minister said, it was the intention to be ‘very hard on employers’. The predictable result will be fewer employers.

Terence Corrigan

Project Manager, Institute of Race Relations

 

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