On 29 August 2023, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition published the long-awaited Companies Amendment Bill [B27-2023] for public comment.
Just Share welcomes and supports the inclusion in the Bill of a legal requirement for wage gap disclosure. In a country which is regularly touted as the most unequal in the world, this disclosure serves as a crucial step in understanding and addressing the high labour market inequality that is so damaging to our economy and society.
It is however of great concern that the Bill does not include disclosure of gender pay gaps as part of its mandatory requirements for pay gap disclosure. This omission, which has been raised by Just Share and others in submissions on both previous versions of the Bill (released for public comment in 2018 and 2021) makes no sense in the context of the policy objectives which the amendments seek to address. These include “the achievement of equity as between directors and senior management on the one hand, and shareholders and workers on the other hand as well as addressing public concerns regarding high levels of inequalities in society”.
Women represent 46% of South Africa’s economically active population, but, according to Stats SA, earn approximately 30% less than men. The Presidential Jobs Summit Framework Agreement which emerged from the 2018 Jobs Summit emphasised that “gender parity is fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive”, and stated that “by addressing the gender pay gap, organisations can begin to unpack and understand the complex nature gender equity manifests [sic] within the workplace and the implications it has on society”.
Given our current context of gendered and racialised labour market outcomes, standardised and mandatory reporting of gender wage gaps in South Africa is crucial for addressing entrenched gender inequalities in the workforce, promoting gender equity, and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.
In addition to Just Share’s submissions related to disclosure of the gender pay gap, our comments on the Bill include:
- That disclosures should include the total remuneration of the lowest-paid sub-contracted worker who performs most or all of his/her work for or in the firm concerned, as well as the job title of that worker and the number of workers in that category of pay; and
- That disclosures must specify the job position/title that represents the lowest grade eligible for the minimum remuneration. If they do not do so, it is impossible for stakeholders to verify the numbers provided and to ascertain the extent to which low-paid roles in the company are being performed by outsourced workers.
Next week, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition will hold public hearings on the Bill. Just Share will present to the Committee on Wednesday 18 October.
Download Just Share’s full submission.