Public invited to comment on proposed Equality Bill amendment

The department of justice and constitutional development (DJCD) is asking for public comment on proposed amendments to the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (Act No. 4 of 2000), which were published in Government Gazette No. 44402 on March 26.

The proposed amendment bill suggests a number of changes to the act to broaden its scope and address problems which have been identified with the current iteration.

Clauses 1 to 3 of the bill are aimed at improving the protection of complainants from discrimination by broadening the definition of “equality” and “discrimination” in the Act.

Under the amended Act, “equality” will include “equal rights and access to resources, opportunities, benefits and advantage”.

At the same time, the bill will make it so that intention is no longer required for an action to be considered discrimination. This, the department said, will make it easier for complainants to make out a case.

The bill will make it so that intention is no longer required for an action to be considered discrimination

Two new subsections will be added to section 6 of the Act which handles the general prohibition of unfair discrimination.

The subsections extend the scope of the prohibition to “any person who causes, encourages or requests another person to discriminate against others”.

Provision will be made for joint and several liability, which will ensure that both employers and employees can be held liable for discrimination.

Provision will be made for joint and several liability, which will ensure that both employers and employees can be held liable for discrimination

The bill also wants to introduce section 9A, which prohibits retaliation against a person who exercised their remedies legally entitled to them by the Act

The second half of the bill, clauses 4 to 9, make it easier for the department to ensure the promotion of equality by the government.

These include compelling state departments on both the national and provincial level to release information in their strategic, corporate and business plans; ensuring Annual Reports of Organs of State contain information on how they are promoting equality, and; criminalising the willful submission of false information.

Citizens have until April 25 to submit a written comment on the proposed amendments.

Comments can be emailed to fbhayat@justice.gov.za or faxed to 086-754-8493.

They can also be mailed to:

The Director-General: Justice and Constitutional Development

Private Bag X81

Pretoria

0001

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