Explainer: A guide to online employment equity reporting for employers

The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 aims to promote equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination and the implementation of affirmative action measures.

The Act requires designated employers to submit annual reports on their progress in achieving employment equity goals. These reports are essential for monitoring and evaluating the state of employment equity in South Africa, explains Dimpho Vilankulu - Skills Development & Employment Equity Specialist at Strata-g Transformation Solutions.

In an effort to streamline the process, the Department of Labour has made it easier and faster for employers to submit  their employment equity reports online through the EE Online Reporting System. This system is user-friendly and efficient, and it allows employers to make changes and print the report before they submit it. The manual approach is time-consuming and is not guided.

Employers who want to use the online system need to register their entity online using their company information. They will then receive a reference number that will serve as their username. They will also need to create a password. To log in to the system, they will use the reference number and the password they created.

The deadline for submitting employment equity reports online is the 15th of January every year. The reporting period opens on the 1st of October every year. Employers who fail to comply with this requirement will face a minimum fine of 1.5 million or 2% of their annual turnover. However, employers who become designated after the first working day of April but before the first working day of October have an extended deadline until the first working day of October the following year.

An employer that is not able to submit a report to the director general by the first working day of October must notify the director general in writing before the last working day of August in the same year giving reasons for its inability to do so.

Employers need to fill out all the sections of the Employment Equity reports. The EEA2 form requires workforce information such as current active workforce, terminations, promotions, and new recruitments. The EEA4 form is an income differential statement that requires salary information of employees on all occupational levels. This is guided by the Code of Good Practice for work of equal value and pay.

Employers need to ensure the accuracy and validity of their employment equity data online. They need to have an internal system that they use and regulate monthly. The system needs to keep a record of the gaps and the movements. This will ensure that the numbers are consistent and accurate. Before submitting the reports, the employers need to do a sanity check.

Employers also need to consult and obtain approval from their CEO or accounting officer before submitting their employment equity reports online.

Section 17 of the Employment Equity Act stipulates that the EEA2 form is a matter to be consulted on. The S24 manager needs to consult with the committee on the EEA2 form before it can be submitted. The EEA4 form is a private document and can only be consulted with by the accounting officer. After consultation, the CEO or accounting officer needs to sign the hard copies of the Equity reports and save them on file. Once the reports have been signed and data confirmed, the S24 manager or EE manager can then submit the reports.

Submitting employment equity reports online is a convenient and effective way for employers to comply with the Employment Equity Act and contribute to the transformation of the South African labour market. Employers who use the online system will benefit from its efficiency and user-friendliness, and they will avoid the penalties and risks associated with the manual approach. Employers who want to learn more about the online system can visit the Department of Labour website or contact the EE Online Helpdesk.

Employers can also print and save their employment equity reports online for their own records. The system has an option entitled "Request Equity Reports" that allows employers to pull reports. Alternatively, after submitting reports, the employers will receive the reports via email automatically generated from the system.

However, the progress cannot be tracked online via the Department of Labour System. Employers need to have an internal system that they use in conjunction with quarterly progress meetings to track and monitor their progress.

Employers can also access and use the online resources and assistance provided by the Department of Employment and Labour for employment equity reporting. The employers can download the online manual and follow the step-by-step guide that will help them. Alternatively, the employers can seek the assistance of consultants such as Strata-G who are experts in the system.

Employers need to be mindful that they need to report on the timeline specified in their EEA 13 (EE plan). Submitting the reports is a method used by the Department of Labour to regulate progress made on the plan.

Employers who are committed to achieving employment equity in their workplaces should take advantage of the online system and submit their reports on time. The Department of Labour is available to assist should employers encounter issues, however the use of a qualified professional service provider is also recommended to ensure a seamless and accurate submission.

Timely accurate submissions not only help employers avoid fines and sanctions but also demonstrate their social responsibility and leadership in the South African economy.