Frustrated by the slow pace of workplace transformation, the government says it will invoke a section in labour legislation that will make it compulsory for companies to have a compliance certificate to do business with it.

A Business Day report says the legislation – section 53 of the Employment Equity Act – has, to date, remained dormant while the government waited to see whether employers would comply voluntarily with employment equity objectives.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said yesterday the government will adopt a tougher approach to companies that continue to stall on employment-equity targets.

‘Section 53 will give us the force we need,’ Nxesi said, adding he hoped to see its promulgation by the end of 2019 or early in 2020.

Another measure contemplated to quicken the equity transformation in the workplace is to set employment-equity targets for each economic sector, with the risk of prosecution for the failure to meet the targets for no justifiable reason.

These targets will replace the system of self-regulation which Nxesi says has not worked. He said there is a need to increase the risk of non-compliance so firms are aware there would be consequences.

Full Business Day report

Nxesi warned companies that do not comply that they will be punished.

'We are forced to set the targets ourselves,' he is quoted as saying in a Mail & Guardian report. Nxesi said too many employers are simply not complying.

Releasing this year’s Employment Equity Report, Nxesi noted white people still continue to dominate top management positions. The report combines 30 000 separate company reports, covering 7.4m employees. Its main findings are:

* 65.5% of top management positions are still occupied by white people, followed by black African people, who took up 15% of management positions.

* In agriculture, whites fill 77.5% of senior positions.

* Men occupy 76.5% of the top management positions in government, with 71% of these positions taken up by black Africans. White men fill 69.9% of these positions in the private sector.

* People with disabilities make up only 1.3% of top management.

* Women make up only 39% of senior management.

In an attempt to make sure that there are consequences for errant companies, Nxesi said the Labour Department would be increasing the number of inspectors on its books.

Currently there is one inspector for every 20 workplaces, he said.

Full Mail & Guardian report