Here’s what the Employment Equity Act means when it talks about “reasonable accommodation”

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 06 Aug. 2014

Tags: ee act, employment equity, ee act and reasonable accommodation, employment equity act

Our labour experts have been getting a lot of questions about the Employment Equity Act.

It’s clear that employers want to comply with the Act and achieve employment equity in their workplaces and avoid hefty fines.

One question our experts got this week comes from an employer who wants to know what the EE Act means when it talks about “reasonable accommodation”.

If you want to know the answer too, here’s what you need to know…

The EE Act has this to say about “reasonable accommodation”

The EE Act says to achieve employment equity you must implement affirmative action measures for people from designated groups.

It goes on to say, your affirmative action measures should include: Making reasonable accommodation for people from designated groups.

So what’s “reasonable accommodation”?

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service defines “reasonable accommodation” as any modification or adjustment to a job or to the working environment that’ll enable a person from a designated group to have access to, participate in, or advance in employment (Chapter 1, Section 1).

Sound complicated?

This practical example will make things clear…

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Here’s a practical example of what the EE Act means by “reasonable accommodation”

Judy, the recruitment manager for a small distribution company interviews Sophia for the vacant switchboard operator position. Sophia’s disabled and uses a wheelchair for mobility. The company’s located in a building that has three floors and the only access to all floors is by stairs.

Judy feels Sophia’s suitably qualified for the position. She’s also a coloured female, so her appointment would also support the company’s Employment Equity Plan.

Judy knows the company can’t afford to make extensive changes to the premises to accommodate disabled people, but feels it’s reasonable to build a wheelchair access ramp on the ground floor. They can then move the switchboard from its current location on the third floor down to the ground floor. This will then be accessible to Sophia after they make the small enhancements to the entrance. The ladies’ ablutions on the first floor already has a widened stall and it would be a simple matter to make other small adjustments to assist Sophia to use the facilities. Judy receives authorisation to make the alterations and offers Sophia the job. By doing all of this, the company is making “reasonable accommodation” in line with the EE Act.

That’s all there is to “reasonable accommodation”. Now that you know what the EE Act means when it talks about “reasonable accommodation”, make sure you comply so you can achieve employment equity in your workplace.

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