‘Numerical Targets’ or ‘Quotas’? The Draft Employment Equity Regulations 2023 in Perspective

Author Davy Rammila

ISSN: 2413-9874
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, University of South Africa; LLB LLM cum laude (University of Johannesburg); LLD Candidate (University of Johannesburg)
Source: Industrial Law Journal, Volume 45 Issue 2, 2024, p. 692 – 719


The 2022 amendments to the Employment Equity Act (EEA) introduced s 15A which empowers the Minister of Employment and Labour to adopt regulations determining sector-specific numerical targets to be taken into account by designated employers in implementing their employment equity plans. Through these regulations, the Minister is able to influence directly the contents of employers’ affirmative action measures. Empowered thereby, the Minister published the Draft Employment Equity Regulations, 2023 that have drawn the ire of certain sections of the public who claim that the draft’s numerical targets are tantamount to quotas operating against certain racial groups. This contribution investigates the validity of the draft regulations within the framework of the EEA and the Constitution. It notes that although the regulations are poorly drafted, the numerical targets are justifiably based on regional demographics and are generally not in violation of the Act. Furthermore, it argues that the numerical targets are designed as affirmative action allocations which the Minister has designated, within each sector, to be subject to his determinations. Ultimately, it concludes that a violation of these instruments occurs only in circumstances involving ‘skilled’ occupational levels for which the Minister appears to impose targets covering all available occupations with no room for the employer’s discretion.