Committee’s Draft Report: Workplace Discrimination Public Hearings: Department of Labour response

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Employment and Labour

13 May 2008
Chairperson: Mr T Anthony (ANC) and Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Labour gave input regarding various recommendations contained in the draft report. Mr Les Kettledas, the acting Director- General for the Department of Labour (DOL) considered the committees’ public hearings draft report and gave input regarding various recommendations. He pointed out that certain of the issue had already been addressed by the Department, which regarded the involvement with stakeholders as important.

Members raised questions on the integration of human resource policy into employment equity, enforcement of compliance, the number of vacancies and what was being done about the inspectorate and monitoring capacity.  It was noted that a one day workshop would be held on 27 May, and this would comprise presentations on codes of good practice and the Director-General’s review. There was still a need to debate some issues arising from the recommendations, and therefore the Committee report was not adopted.

Meeting report

 

Draft Committee Report on public hearings on Workplace Discrimination: Department of Labour (DOL) responses
Co Chairperson Mr T Anthony confirmed that the Committee could not adopt its draft report on the Budget Vote 15 and on the public hearings around Workplace Discrimination, as there was not a quorum present at the meeting. He commended the Committee Researcher, Mr Ekhsaan Jawoodeen, was commended for compiling the report. He asked the Department of Labour nonetheless to give some comments on the draft report.

Mr Les Kettledas, Acting Director-General, Department of Labour, congratulated Ms O Kasienyane on her new appointment as the North-West Province’s ANC Treasurer.

Mr Kettledas made reference to some recommendations in the report. He stated that the Department had always encouraged consultation between employees and employers and that the current laws were a product of consultation. He said that Section 16 of the Employment Equity (EE) Act already made provision for the establishment of such consultation. He also made reference to section 17 of the EE Act and pointed out that the implementation of the equity plan was subject to consultation between stakeholders, and that the Department had issued a code of good practice on 23 November 1999 on the preparation, implementation and monitoring of the EE plan.

He said that the Department emphasised the importance of the understanding of stakeholders in how to put the EE plan together and that the code of good practice guided stakeholders on the legal framework, structure of the plan, the planning phase and the issues of awareness and consultation. He noted that the DOL had put through a proposal for the development of the Employment Equity plan, which was published in November 1999.

Mr Kettledas said that consultation was evident, as there had to be consultation with trade union representatives on the report before it was submitted to the Department of Labour.

He also emphasized that the Department had simplified the Employment Equity forms and had made them more user friendly. He added that the Department had also changed the reporting cycle for smaller businesses and that by law larger companies should submit their forms on the first working day of October every year, but that smaller businesses should do that every second year. He said that the simplified forms had been published and that they could be found on the Department’s website.

With regard to the Committees’ second recommendation on skills development, and particularly access to the joint policy statement, he said that he was not sure whether there was already access to that but it was possible to acquire such access.

In terms of linkages regarding the development of skills and Employment Equity, the Department had put through a code of good practice, which integrated employment equity into human resource policy.

He stated that the Code of Good Practice published in August 2005 had the Department incorporating guidelines on the linkages. He then read out Section 15 of the Code and noted that the section was published on their website. He said that part of the report had a requisite that employers must include their company’s skills development initiatives. He added that this gave the Department a good idea of who was being trained by companies and what they were training employees on.

He also added that the Department held an annual skills conference in October where an assessment of implementation would be done and that an assessment report would be released at the conference. He added that the conference was an ideal way in way to assess and identify challenges regarding skills development.

Mr Kettledas said that stakeholders should nominate senior representatives to the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) board to ensure that skills development initiatives were met and that this was discussed at the Growth and Development Summit in 2003. He then went on to read an excerpt from the Summit report, and added that all relevant social partners who were present at the Summit should all comply with the agreements they had made.

He agreed with the Committees’ recommendations regarding the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) powers and added that a legislative mandate was needed to make the relevant changes.

With regards to statistics, he said that the Department had an ongoing relationship with Statistics SA and that a survey was held every six months, but that he would try to discern how that aspect could be strengthened.

Mr Kettledas then went on to discuss the Committees’ recommendations regarding the creation of awareness of Employment Equity.  He said that based on the agreement reached between the Department and social partners at the Growth and Development Summit of 2003, road shows were being conducted annually. He added that the road shows always preceded the reporting cycle. He said that several social partners were involved, including organisations, businesses and community constituencies. Mr Kettledas added that this years’ advocacy would be concluded with issues of disability and HIV/Aids in July and August. He added that the Director- General’s reviews would be highlighted.

Regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, he said that the Department had drawn an amended code of good practice, which was published in August 2005. He read an extract from the code, and added that the objective was to provide guidelines to employers and employees.

Regarding the Committees’ recommendation on the improvement on the representation of white women in the workplace he said that the trend needed to be monitored and that the trend would be revealed in each progress report.

In relation to the recommendation on the awareness of HIV/Aids, he noted that in the Employment Equity plan employers were required to explain how they would manage HIV/Aids in the workplace. The code of good practice on HIV/Aids included technical assistance guidelines.

Discussion
Co-Chairperson Ms O Kasienyane (ANC) noted that there was nothing much that needed to be added to the report.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) asked Mr Kettledas how the Department was going to go about integrating human resource policy into Employment Equity.

Mr Kettledas said that the Department would do a thorough presentation on this at the forthcoming workshop.

The Chairperson added that a workshop would be conducted on the 27th May 2008.

Mr Mkongi asked the Department how they were going about the issue of enforcement of compliance. He was also concerned about the large number of inspector vacancies.

Mr Kettledas responded that for there had been a Director General’s review that had been implemented for the past two years, where the levels of compliance of the major JSE-listed companies such as Investec and Tigerbrands were being monitored. He added that problems were being identified, recommendations were being made by the Department and the companies were then given a time frame to implement the recommendations.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) questioned how the Department of Labour intended to increase their inspectorate and monitoring capacity.

Mr Kettledas responded to this as well as the issue around vacancies. He said the Department was in the process of training inspectors in the provinces to undertake a Director-General review and that it was also in the process of building the capacity of inspectors.

Ms Kasienyane noted that a one day workshop would be held on 27 May 2008. The workshop would comprise two presentations, one on codes of good practice and the other on the Director-General review.

Ms Kasienyane noted that there was still a need for a debate on the recommendations, as there was some difference of opinion between Members. The Committee’s report was not adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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