Employment Equity Laws Every SME Should Know

Build My Business Human Resources

There’s a lot to consider when you hire staff for your business. Besides all the processes involved in screening and hiring the right candidates, you also need to ensure you follow all of the relevant employment laws. 

All employers need to understand employee equity laws. This ensures they operate fairly, and don’t discriminate against any employees. As there are so many laws and employment regulations to know, keeping up with all of the relevant laws can be tricky.

This guide will break down the essentials.

What is the Employment Equity Act?

The Employment Equity Act is a law that promotes equality and fairness in the workplace. All employers need to abide by this law to ensure every employee receives equal opportunities. 

The main purpose of the Employee Equity Act is to prevent employers from discriminating against employees, or providing them with unfair treatment, either directly or through company policies. 

The law states that employers cannot discriminate against employees on the grounds of:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Marital status
  • Family responsibility
  • Ethnic or social origin
  • Colour
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • HIV status
  • Conscience
  • Belief
  • Political opinion
  • Culture
  • Language
  • Birth.

Employment Equity Laws You Need to Know

Ensuring all employees are treated equally and fairly is an essential part of hiring and managing staff. 

Here are a few important laws SMEs should know related to employment. 

  • Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is the minimum hourly rate that workers can earn in South Africa. As of 2023, the rate is R23,19 per normal working hour. The minimum hourly wage increases annually, so it’s important that you make sure all employees are always earning above this.

  • Employment Contracts

All employees need to have a written contract to outline the terms of their employment. Of course, this contract needs to align with all relevant labour laws. The contract should outline things like pay, holidays, work hours, benefits, sick leave, and so on. 

It’s important that business owners provide these contracts to all new employees, and that the employer and employee go through the contract together.

  • Health and Safety Laws

Employers need to ensure their workplaces are safe and follow all the necessary health and safety regulations for their industry. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993) outlines all of the laws and requirements for maintaining a safe workplace. 

  • Industry-Specific Laws

While there are many different employment laws out there, it’s essential that employers understand the specific laws that relate to their industries. This is necessary for ensuring your workplace is up-to-standard, and that all employees are treated fairly according to industry standards. 

Discriminating against employees is a serious offence, so it’s vital that employers understand all necessary employment equity laws before taking on new staff. 

If in doubt, consult with a legal professional in drafting employment contracts and setting employment policies. This will make it a lot easier to keep your workplace operating in line with all relevant standards.