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Differentiating between Fair and Unfair Discrimination with Examples | Business Studies Grade 12 

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Discrimination in the workplace is a serious issue that can negatively impact both employees and businesses. Fair and unfair discrimination are two types of discrimination that exist in the workplace. Differentiating between Fair and Unfair Discrimination with Examples

Understanding the difference between the two is important, especially for Business Studies Grade 12 students who are preparing to enter the workforce. In this article, we will differentiate between fair and unfair discrimination in the workplace with relevant examples and applicable acts in South Africa.

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Differentiating between Fair and Unfair Discrimination with Examples

Fair Discrimination

Fair discrimination is when an employer treats employees differently based on reasonable and justifiable grounds. These grounds can include qualifications, skills, experience, and performance. For example, if an employer is looking to fill a position that requires a specific qualification, it would be fair for them to discriminate against candidates who do not possess that qualification. Another example of fair discrimination is when an employer rewards employees who perform well with promotions or bonuses, while those who do not perform well do not receive the same rewards.

Unfair discrimination

Unfair discrimination, on the other hand, is when an employer treats employees unfairly based on factors that are not relevant to the job, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and disability. For example, if an employer refuses to hire a qualified candidate because of their race, that would be considered unfair discrimination. Similarly, if an employer pays women less than men for doing the same job, that would also be unfair discrimination.

The difference in table format

Fair DiscriminationUnfair Discrimination
Based on reasonable and justifiable grounds such as qualifications, skills, experience, and performance.Based on factors that are not relevant to the job, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and disability.
Used to make decisions such as hiring, promotions, and rewards.Results in employees being treated unfairly and denied opportunities based on irrelevant factors.
Helps to ensure that the best person is selected for the job based on their qualifications and skills.Creates a negative work environment and can result in legal action against the employer.
Encourages employees to work hard and perform well in order to receive promotions and rewards.Can lead to employee dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation to perform well.
Is legal and acceptable under certain circumstances.Is illegal and prohibited by law.

It is important for employers and employees to understand the difference between fair and unfair discrimination in the workplace in order to promote a fair and inclusive work environment.

Key Determinants

Here are 10 key factors that determine fair and unfair discrimination in the workplace:

  1. Race
  2. Gender
  3. Ethnic or social origin
  4. Colour
  5. Sexual orientation
  6. Age
  7. Disability
  8. Pregnancy
  9. Marital status
  10. Religion or belief

These factors, among others, are protected by anti-discrimination laws in many countries, including South Africa. Discriminating against employees or job candidates based on any of these factors is considered unfair and can result in legal action and fines for employers. It is important for employers to understand the laws and regulations regarding discrimination and to promote a fair and inclusive workplace for all employees.

5 Acts that promote fair discrimination in South Africa workplace

Discrimination can be considered fair in South Africa when it is based on reasonable and justifiable grounds. Here are some instances when discrimination is considered fair under relevant acts in South Africa:

  1. Affirmative Action: Affirmative Action is a policy that aims to promote equal opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups, such as black people, women, and people with disabilities. Under the Employment Equity Act, employers are required to implement affirmative action measures to address past discrimination and to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Discriminating in favor of these groups during the hiring process can be considered fair under affirmative action policies.
  2. Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE): BBBEE is a policy that aims to promote economic empowerment for historically disadvantaged groups in South Africa, particularly black people. Under the BBBEE Act, employers are required to implement measures to promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace, including preferential treatment for black people when hiring and promoting employees. Discriminating in favor of black people under these policies is considered fair and justifiable.
  3. Employment Equity Act: The Employment Equity Act prohibits unfair discrimination in the workplace, but it allows for fair discrimination based on reasonable and justifiable grounds, such as qualifications, skills, experience, and performance. Discrimination in these instances is considered fair and legal.
  4. Occupational Health and Safety Act: The Occupational Health and Safety Act allows employers to discriminate against employees or job candidates who are unable to perform their job duties safely due to a disability or medical condition. Discriminating in these instances is considered fair and necessary for ensuring workplace safety.
  5. Labour Relations Act: The Labour Relations Act allows employers to discriminate against employees or job candidates who are unable to perform their job duties due to a genuine occupational qualification, such as language skills or physical abilities. Discriminating in these instances is considered fair and justifiable.

5 Acts that promote fair discrimination in South Africa workplace

There are several acts that prohibit discrimination in the South African workplace. Here are five of the most important ones:

  1. Employment Equity Act (EEA): The EEA prohibits unfair discrimination on any grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, and birth. The EEA requires employers to eliminate unfair discrimination in all aspects of employment, including recruitment, training, promotion, and benefits.
  2. Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA): PEPUDA is another important act that prohibits unfair discrimination based on the same grounds as the EEA. PEPUDA provides for the promotion of equality and the prevention of unfair discrimination in all areas of society, including the workplace.
  3. Labour Relations Act (LRA): The LRA prohibits discrimination against employees based on trade union membership or participation in lawful union activities. The LRA also prohibits discrimination against employees who engage in protected strikes or other forms of industrial action.
  4. Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA): The BCEA prohibits discrimination against employees based on their employment status, such as full-time, part-time, or temporary workers. The BCEA also requires employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of the employee’s employment status.
  5. Skills Development Act (SDA): The SDA prohibits discrimination against employees based on their participation in skills development programs. The SDA requires employers to provide equal opportunities for training and development to all employees, regardless of their background or employment status.

These acts work together to create a comprehensive framework for prohibiting discrimination in the South African workplace. Employers should be aware of their responsibilities under these acts and strive to create a fair and inclusive workplace for all employees.

Discrimination can be considered fair in South Africa when it is based on reasonable and justifiable grounds under relevant acts such as affirmative action, BBBEE, employment equity, occupational health and safety, and the Labour Relations Act. Employers should strive to create a fair and inclusive workplace while adhering to these laws and regulations.

Understanding the difference between fair and unfair discrimination is important for Business Studies Grade 12 students who are preparing to enter the workforce. Fair discrimination is based on reasonable and justifiable grounds, while unfair discrimination is based on factors that are not relevant to the job. In South Africa, the Employment Equity Act prohibits unfair discrimination and requires employers to promote equal opportunities and eliminate unfair discrimination in all aspects of employment. By following these laws and principles, businesses can create a fair and inclusive workplace for all employees.

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