Ricochet News

Unfair remuneration and discriminatory treatment in the workplace illegal

Unfair remuneration and discriminatory treatment in the workplace illegal

The practice of paying employees disproportionately constitute an unfair discrimination and is prohibited in terms of the amended Employment Equity (EE) Act. 

Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) national senior commissioner, Winnie Everet told delegates today at Umbali Lodge in Mbombela that: "every employer must take steps to eliminate discrimination in the workplace".

According to the EE Act no employees doing the same work, work that is substantially the same or work that is of equal value should be directly or indirectly treated differently.

"Failure to abide to the principle of equity amounts to unfair discrimination, unless the employer can demonstrate rational justification," Everet said.

Discrimination in any employment policy or practice may occur in the form of race, sex, gender, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, sexual orientation, colour, age, disability, religion, culture amongst others. 

The Act also prohibits discrimination in terms of conditions of employment to include variables such as different medical aid or provident fund and even working hours. 

The Department of Labour and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) are currently conducting a joint national labour law amendments educational roadshow that started in Cape Town on 16 February 2015.

Even before the amendments to EE Act, pay discrimination was recognised as a form of discrimination. The purpose of amending the EE Act is to eliminate unfair pay discrimination, comply with the International Labour Organisation's conventions, and improve access for lower income workers to challenge unfairness.  

Briefings to stakeholders have been held to date in Cape Town, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Durban, and Polokwane.

In summary, discrimination in terms of unequal pay is now prohibited; failure to apply the principle of equal pay for work of equal value amounts to unfair discrimination - unless an employer can show that it is based on fair criteria; and that differences in wages can be fair if it is because of skills, experience, responsibilities and qualifications. 

The department and the  CCMA plan to host more roadshows  (02 March) at Kat Leisure Osner Hotel Office Suites Kennaway Hotel Esplanade in East London; (3 March) at ETC Conference Centre Spondo Street at Struandale in Port Elizabeth; (05 March) at Safari Lodge Hotel & Convention Centre 1 Donkerhoek Road in Rustenburg; (06 March) at the CSIR Conference Centre in Meiring Naude Road in Pretoria.


Image courtesy of: www.govpage.co.za