How To: Develop and complete the employment equity plan policy and dispute resolution mechanisms

How To: Develop and complete the employment equity plan policy and dispute resolution mechanisms

How To: Develop and complete the employment equity plan policy and dispute resolution mechanisms

How To: Develop and complete the employment equity plan policy and dispute resolution mechanisms

All organisations should develop and complete the employment equity plan policy and dispute resolution to resolve any grievances or disputes. It is of utmost importance that all employees agree with the policy and procedure. The reason is that if the employees don’t approve or believe that the policy and procedure are fair and unbiased, every grievance or dispute will end up at the CCMA or, even worse, in the Labour Court.

Section 6, of the EEA 13 employment equity plan states, “A clear process to be followed to resolve disputes arising from the interpretation and implementation of the EE Plan, including the responsible persons and time-frames for each step to resolve the dispute.”

General organisational management policies and procedures differ from day-to-day process procedures in that general organisational policies and procedures are implemented and applied across all departments and divisions of the organisation and are not limited to one specific department or division.

Section 20 of the Act specifically requires the organisation to prepare and implement an organisational employment equity plan. To this end, Section 20 (G) of the Act and Section 6 of the EEA13 (Employment Equity Plan) form require “The internal procedures to resolve any dispute about the interpretation or implementation of the plan.”

Create Drafts.

The organisation can follow a draft and acceptance format to develop the company policies and procedures where a draft of the policy and procedure is provided to employees for comment, upon which changes are made to the draft and again sent for employee comment.

Once all employees agree and no further comments or changes are required, the final version of the policy and procedure is signed off by the management and organisation’s workers’ forum.

This process will also limit the possibility of discriminatory or a biased policy and procedures being developed by the management of the organisation with little or no input from the affected employees.

We found that when employees are part of the development process, and I have been offered the opportunity to contribute to the development process, the said policy and procedure are much more widely accepted and followed by the employees of the organisation.

Use a panel or forum.

It is also important to note that the grievance and dispute policy and procedure must make provision that the chairperson or, in some cases, a panel of employees presiding over the resolution or arbitration process may be someone other than a manager or director of the organisation, as the chairperson may be selected by the employees, during the development stage of the policy and procedure.

3rd party Intervention.

In certain cases where the grievance is between management and the employees, the policy and procedure must take into cognisance that step 1 cannot be used to resolve the grievance or dispute, and it is, therefore, prudent to proceed to step 2 and utilise the services of an independent third party such as a consultant or attorney.

We suggest that the organisation adopt a 3 step approach to resolving any grievance, dispute or complaint, and this must be incorporated into the organisation’s grievance and dispute policy and procedure.

Step 1. Internal resolution of the issue via the grievance policy and procedure.

Step 2. External arbitration of the issue via an independent party (i.e attorney/consultant)

Step 3. Formal and Legal conciliation with the CCMA or Labour Court

Each step has a certain speed and cost implication, with step 3 being the most expensive and slowest. Using a well-developed and accepted internal grievance procedure can quickly resolve most problems in the organisation without incident.

Policy and Procedure requirements

In order to develop the draft version of the policy and procedure, the organisation needs to consider the following requirements for the policy and procedure.

  • A preamble to describe what the intent and purpose of the policy and procedure is and what it would like to achieve.

  • All applicable legal acts that applied to the policy, such as the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Skills Development Act.

  • To whom do the policies and procedures apply within the organisation?

  • The duration of the policy and procedure, as well as its review date.

  • The principles and their functions will be applied during the arbitration process to resolve the dispute or grievance.

  • The key procedures will be applied in handling any grievances or disputes as well as communication prior to and during the dispute resolution.

  • The basic stages of the dispute resolution and procedure process.

  • Chair people and panel findings and options, how it will be implemented and interpreted.

  • The complaints and grievance flow chart is a detailed pictorial layout of how the process will flow with detailed descriptions of each process.

  • A grievance form that must be completed by the person or party lodging the dispute or grievance.

Employment Equity Act 55, 1998, Section 20.

20. Employment equity plan.

20. (1) A designated employer must prepare and implement an employment equity plan which will achieve reasonable progress towards employment equity in that employer’s workforce.

(2) An employment equity plan prepared in terms of subsection (1) must slate-

(a) the objectives to be achieved for each year of the plan;

(b) the affirmative action measures to be implemented as required by section 15(2);

(c) where underrepresentation of people from designated groups has been identified by the analysis, the numerical goals* to achieve the equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups within each occupational category and level in the workforce, the timetable within which this is to be achieved, and the strategies intended to achieve those goals;

(d) the timetable for each year of the plan for the achievement of goals and objectives other than numerical goals;

(e) the duration of the plan, which may not be shorter than one year or longer than five years;

(f) the procedures that will be used to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan and whether reasonable progress is being made towards implementing employment equity;

(g) the internal procedures to resolve any dispute about the interpretation or implementation of the plan;

(h) the persons in the workforce, including senior managers, responsible for monitoring and implementing the plan; and

(i) any other prescribed matter.

(3) For purposes of this Act. a person may be suitably qualified for a job as a result of any one of, or any combination of that person’s-

(a) formal qualifications;

(b) prior learning;

(c) relevant experience: or

(d) capacity to acquire, within a reasonable time. the ability to do the job.

(4) When determining whether a person is suitably qualified for a job, an employer must-

(a) review all the factors listed in subsection (3), and

(b) determine whether that person has the ability to do the job in terms of any one of, or any combination of those factors.

(5) In making a determination under subsection (4), an employer may not unfairly discriminate against a person solely on the grounds of that person’s lack of relevant experience.

(6) An employment equity plan may contain any other measures that are consistent with the purposes of this Act.

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Stephan du Toit

Stephan du Toit

Senior Advisor Employment Equity. Specialist in emergency Employment Equity and Labour compliance for organisations. Find more information on implementing employment equity in my other articles or visit our website to enroll for the next employment equity training course.

Are you having difficulty with employment equity? Please don't hesitate to contact me.

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