A comparative study on the principles of equal pay for equal work in South Africa in the context of gender discrimination
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In 1995, the South African apartheid system came to an end. After a lengthy period of discussions between the blacks and whites, certain celebrated legal measures were introduced. Some of the legal developments which were introduced include the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998. These two pieces of legislation seek to eradicate discrimination of any form in South Africa. In this regard, section 9 of the Constitution entitles everyone in South Africa to equal treatment and equal benefits of the law, whilst the Employment Equity Act aims to achieve the same, but in the employment arena. The Employment Equity Act, together with the Employment Equity Regulations 2014 and the Code of Good Practice/Remuneration for work of equal value on equal pay regulate the principle of equal pay for equal work. The aim of regulating this principle is to ensure that males and females who perform the same work or work of equal value are remunerated equally. On plant level however, males seem to be paid higher wages than women. Statistically it is estimated that women lag behind by 15% — 17% in comparison to men in terms of remuneration packages. This is so even when women are performing the same work as men or perform work that is rated equal in value to their male counterparts. This clearly constitutes discrimination against women as there are no valid reasons why women should be paid less than men. At an international level, the ILO has developed a number of standards regarding equal pay for equal work. These standards are found in the Convention on Equal Remuneration and Equal Remuneration Recommendation. In a nutshell, the above conventions oblige members states to introduce measures which will eventually put to bed pay disparities between males and females. To effectively achieve this, member states are among other aspects required to introduce job evaluations in the workplace. As a member state to the ILO, the paper measured the level of South Africa's compliance with the ILO equal pay standards. Briefly, South Africa is substantially, but seemingly just theoretically, compliant with the ILO standards which relates to equal pay for equal work as it regulates the matter in legislation. Nevertheless, there is a concern that disparities still prevail and that equal pay is not regulated in the public sector. Whilst the South African government has promulgated the Employment Equity Act, Employment Equity Regulations and the Code of Good Practice, employees are still exposed to wage disparities with reference to gender. Furthermore, whilst the terms and conditions of the employees in the public sector are regulated by the Public Service Act of 2005, the Act does not provide guiding factors to constitute work of equal value. This is against the provisions of the Equal Remuneration Convention, which inter alia requires that member states should ensure that the equal pay principle is applied to everyone. The aim of this paper is to discuss the legislative provisions pertaining to equal pay for equal work in South Africa. The paper therefore seeks to investigate the existing wage gaps in South Africa. Furthermore, the paper discusses the legislative provisions on equal pay for equal work in the United Kingdom, particularly with a view to determine how South African legislation may be improved to close the existing wage gaps.
- Law