What is the purpose of the Employment Equity Act in South Africa?

What is the purpose of the Employment Equity Act in South Africa?

What is the purpose of the Employment Equity Act in South Africa?

What is the purpose of the Employment Equity Act in South Africa?

According to Government, the aim of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 is to remove discrimination, implement affirmative action and to promote equity, equality, opportunity, remuneration and development for all employees in the workplace.

Although Section 2 of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998, is written very restrained. In reality, the Department, and Labour Court enforce the Employment Equity Act as a punitive Act and force all designated employers to comply with the Act. If the organisation doesn’t comply, it will impose extreme fines and penalties, to bankrupt or destroy the organisation. In terms of Schedule 1 of the Employment Equity Act no 47, 2013 non-compliance penalties as high as 10% of the organisations annual turnover or an R2’700’000 fine per event whichever is higher.

The Codes of Good Practice was released written in a very restrained and guiding tone, selling organisations into implementing and integrating legal obligations into the organisation, only to be heavily and severely penalised and fined when the obligations cannot be achieved.

The Codes should also be read in conjunction with the Constitution of South Africa and all relevant legislation, including but not limited to the following:

  • Employment Equity Act 55, 1998, Employment Equity Act 47, 2013

  • the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 as amended;

  • the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 75 of 1997 as amended;

  • the Skills Development Act, 97 of 1998;

  • the Skills Development Levies Act, 9 of 1999; and

  • the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 4 of 2000.

  • the Income Tax Act

Who qualifies under the Employment Equity Act.

The Act was specifically created for a designated group of people later combined as a generic term “Black people”, and people with disabilities which refers to individuals from African, Coloured Asian and Indian descent. It also includes people that have declared themselves as black or disabled in terms of the act using the EEA1 form.

For your Reference

Employment Equity Act 55, 1998 Section (2)

Employment Equity Act 47, 2013 Section (2)

Purpose of this Act

2. The purpose of this Act is to achieve equity in the workplace by-

(a) promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination; and

(b) implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups, in order to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.

Employment Equity Act 47, 2013 Schedule (1)


This Schedule sets out the maximum fine that may be imposed in terms of this Act for the contravention of certain provisions of this Act.


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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