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"Disability" bites back at Employment Equity

The 17th Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) report which was released in May 2017 but does not cater for disabled individuals. 

Employment Equity is an Act which has been implemented in 1998 to achieve equal opportunity in the workplace. 

The Act is meant to eliminate any sort of bias or discrimination in relation to gender, race, ability or disability. 

However, employment for disabled individuals goes unnoticed in the 17th CEE report. 


The report mentions disability in twice, reporting that 1,2% of workforce at Top Management level is disabled compared to 98,8% who are not disabled. 

“The Employment Equity Act states that at least 3% of the workforce should be employees with disabilities. The national disability prevalence rate in South Africa is around 7,5%, but it could be higher because of under-reporting", says Tendai Khumalo, MD of Qunu Workforce,  a Workforce Holdings company, which provides disability solutions for corporates and government".  

"Disability is not inability", says Khumalo who became a paraplegic in 2003 after undergoing a spinal biopsy, after which a blood clot damaged the nerves in his spine. 

There are far too few opportunities for disabled individuals in the workplace, despite the EE Act. 

The Act is merely on paper, says Khumalo who further notes that ramps and modified parking bays are not successful indicators of embracing disability. 
“A paradigm shift is needed regarding the job roles typically ear-marked for persons with disabilities. There is a tendency to link contact centre jobs, admin roles and menial back-office jobs to people with disabilities with no career path and defined growth plans", says Khumalo. 

Khumalo's commitment to increased opportunity for disabled individuals is reflected by his work, Qunu Workforce which assists businesses to source, hire and train people with disabilities, transforming their lives and adding value to the business including improving the company’s B-BBEE scorecard.

The Department of Labour is reminding employers to submit in earnest their employment equity (EE) plan reports on time to avoid penalties.

Department of Labour Employment Equity Directorate, Senior Practitioner Robert Dzhombere cautioned that employers that miss the deadlines should not bother to submit their reports.

Failure by an employer to submit an EE plan report is a criminal act punishable by law.

Dzhombere was speaking today during the EE workshop under the theme: "Real transformation makes business sense” held at The Lakes Hotel & Conference Centre in Benoni, Ekurhuleni.

The workshop is part of the department's advocacy to create awareness on compliance with the Employment Equity Act, publicise and help prepare the employers with the requirements needed to be used when submitting their online 2017 EE reports to the department.

Dzhombere said while manual reporting was still acceptable, he however, encouraged employers to submit online, as manual documents are susceptible to a myriad of mistakes and most were of poor quality. He encouraged employers to use online reporting as the system is dynamic and allows for a piecemeal filling of details.

Since the reporting season opened on September 1, Dzhombere said 500 employers have already accessed the system and 75 have already reported successfully.

During the 2014 financial year 24 291 employers submitted their EE plan reports and 199 of those were manual; in 2015 financial year 25 030 employers submitted their EE reports and 63 of those were manual. In 2016, 26 255 employers reported on their EE plans and 180 did so manually.

Department of Labour EE Directorate, Deputy Director Niresh Singh emphasised that during the development of EE plans proper consultations were critical to ensure the development of credible plans.

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


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