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Use these four tips to avoid unfairly discriminating against employees or you could be liable for fines of up to R2.7 million

by , 04 March 2015
There are many grounds like disability, obesity, qualifications and union membership you can't unfairly discriminate against employees on (Section 6 of the Employment Equity Act.)

If you do, the DoL could charge you fines of up to R2.7 million or 10% of your turnover per incident.

Use these four tips to avoid unfair discrimination against employees so you can comply with the EE Act and avoid crippling penalties.

Don't be that employer who receives a R2.7 million unfair discrimination fine! Use these four tips to avoid this practice

Tip 1: Don't unfairly discriminate against employees with disabilities
Most employers tend to overlook people with disabilities when it comes to hiring and promotions.
This is illegal.
People with disabilities are designated persons (EE Act) and you must give them preference when you hire or promote employees.
But this doesn't mean you get to hand them a job on a silver platter.
They must still have the qualifications and meet the requirements of the job.
What's more, the EE Act says you have to make an effort to adapt your workplace so you can accommodate people with disabilities and give them a chance to prove they're able to do the job.
Tip 2: Don't assume an overweight worker will be less effective than someone who isn't
'About 30% of South African adults are obese and are often victims of discrimination,' says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

Some employers assume an overweight worker can't do the job properly.
Don't make the same mistake.
You can't discriminate against an employee because he's obese unless it's an inherent requirement of his job that he must be lean and athletic. For example, gym instructors or people who promote weight loss products and programme.
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Don't let the new Employment Equity amendments be the reason the DoL comes after you

There are still many employers who don't know exactly what the new 26 amendments are or even how to apply them.

If you employ more than 50 people or if your turnover is over the Employment Equity Act threshold for your industry, you need to comply with each and every one of them.

Click here to find out what you need to do to comply and avoid penalties from the DoL.

Tip 3: Don't unfairly discriminate when it comes to qualifications
You can't discriminate by insisting on certain qualifications for employees unless you can show the qualification is an inherent requirement of the job. For example, it's unrealistic to require someone to have a degree especially if he can do the job.
The rule here is: Don't create any 'artificial' barriers when it comes to appointments and promotion. Evaluate each job category to see what the entry-level qualifications are.
Tip 4: Treat workers who belong to unions fairly
According to John Brand, a consultant and employment and alternative dispute resolution specialist: 'South Africa has one of the highest rates of industrial action, with its strikes among the most violent in the world.'
It's because of these violent strikes that are steadily increasing that some employers frown upon workers who belong to unions. And see them as trouble makers.
This is illegal.
Everyone has the right to freedom of association.
Your employees are free to join a trade union. You can't discriminate against, or victimise them, when they choose to take part in union activities or tell you they intend to participate.
You must also avoid favouring one union over another or treating one union's members more harshly than another.
As you can see, unfair discrimination comes with a heavy price tag. Use these tips to avoid it at all costs. For more tips, check out the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

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