With the introduction of the Employment Equity Amendment Act, Rustim Ariefdien discusses the disability targets set for businesses
The Employment Equity Amendment Act was signed into law. This Act prioritises Employment Equity by introducing targets. The published disability targets was deeply disappointing
When the Employment Equity Act was first promulgated in 1998, there was hope that disability would feature in the world of work.
The 2011 Census confirmed that disability represented 7,5 percent of the population. In certain quarters it was believed that this would be the disability employment equity target.
This notion was supported by the Code of Good Practice on Employment Equity that indicated that demographic statistics would guide target setting for disability employment equity.
In the public sector the disability employment equity target was set to two percent and notably certain government organs actively sought to surpass this target.
The Skills Development Act set a target spend of four percent as a guideline, but even the SETAs were challenged to achieve this target.
The introduction of B-BBEE provided a hard target of two percent black disability employment equity. From the various targets stated above, how could we achieve disability employment equity parity?
The Commission on Employment Equity has reported disability employment equity only achieving between one and 1,3 percent, which confirmed that the disability community remains hugely marginalised.
The incentives provided by B-BBEE are significant for disability, but we have not seen its impact in terms of disability employment equity data reported. Similarly, Skills Development greatly incentivises employers with the implementation of learnerships, but its impact has proven to be miniscule as well.
Then came the Employment Equity Amendment Act target setting disability employment equity at two percent! How will this target increase the economic empowerment of people with disabilities?
It does not make a dent into the 7,5 percent of the working population that should be made provision for in terms of employment.
If employers are going align this disability employment equity target of two percent with the black disability employment target of two percent in the B-BBEE scorecard what happens to white people with disabilities?
It is sad that all the hard work that disability activists have done to bring disability awareness to the limelight is greatly diminished through this target. It is a travesty indeed.
However, as disability activists we must not give up the fight. Our strategy must be to ensure that these targets are achieved:
- Two percent disability employment equity as per Employment Equity Amendment Act.
- Two percent disability employment equity in the Public Service.
- Two percent black disability employment equity as per B-BBEE Scorecard.
- Four percent disability skills spend as per the Skills Development Act.
To achieve this strategy, we need to use the following tools:
- Employers need to achieve the two percent Disability Employment Equity
- Target or face huge penalties.
- Businesses are encouraged to engage disability to earn them extra B-BBEE Scorecard points.
- Businesses have higher Tax Allowances when doing learnerships with people with disabilities.
The above list is certainly not exhaustive, but provides direction in terms of the economic empowerment of the disability community in South Africa.