Navigating the minefield of BBBEE and disability

Personal beliefs about disability will determine the way you approach and manage disability in the workplace. Organisations have a responsibility to create a diverse and non-discriminatory environment for people living with a disability. To manage how your employees respond to people with disabilities, and to minimise discriminatory practices, you must be aware of the guiding principles in legislation. 

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and Employment Equity (EE) legislation were put in place to drive meaningful transformation in a changing South African business environment. You should use disability equity quotas to promote, manage and enhance the role that people with disabilities play within your organisations and not exploit gender to close any gaps in your overall equity numbers.

A disability-focused learnership can boost your B-BBEE scorecard by more than 12 points

This comes through the fact that:

  • Learnerships count six points for 5% of total permanent employees on a learnership, and
  • The learnership process requires a skills spend which contributes the:
    – General skills spend target: six points for a spend of 3% of your payroll on training black employees, and 

    – Specific target for skills spend on people with disabilities of 0.3% of your payroll for three points.

The learners would also then support the EE target of 3% of employees as persons with disabilities for two points. The cumulative effect of the multiple impacts in different aspects of the BBBEE scorecard could well result in more than 12 points. 

You could potentially be losing out on key points on your B-BBEE scorecard… 

… and the opportunity to improve the lives of people less fortunate by ignoring learnership opportunities for people with disabilities.

The costs of these programmes are also softened as government wants to share the responsibility, of providing an opportunity for people with disabilities, with business: 

  • During 2011, the learnership tax incentive was extended for a further five years to October 2016.
  • In addition to tax rebates (up to R100 000 per learner with a disability), there are many other benefits to implementing a learnership in your organisation, for example:

1.    Cash grants,
2.    Contribution towards your BEE scorecard,
3.    Provision of skilled and experienced workers,
4.    Improved productivity and quality, and
5.    Identification of skills gaps and training opportunities.


In a 10-person manufacturing business with an annual payroll of R10 million, the company can score 12.6% on the BBBEE scorecard by simply placing one black female on a disability-focused learnership. An immediate return of 6% points is claimed for achieving the learnership target of 5% of total permanent employees, which – once adjusted for gender – escalates to a 6% weighted point impact on the scorecard.

Because the learnership in this case is applied to a person with a disability, this will also count towards the target for disability in the EE portion of the scorecard, which is 2% of total permanent employees.

Complying with this target adds 2% weighted points. Taking this a step further, you can gain an additional 3% point impact on the skills development side if you undertake training valued at 0.3% of payroll for an employee with a disability.

by Dr Robin Woolley 

This article first appeared on HR Pulse.

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