A national minimum wage was officially incorporated in South Africa in January 2019 to safeguard employees from “unreasonably low salaries” and encourage collective bargaining. Researchers note that while the minimum wage, which was initially set at R20 per hour for the majority of workers in the country, undoubtedly benefited a sizable portion of the workforce by increasing their take-home pay at the end of each week or month, it has done little to eradicate poverty or provide those workers with a dignified life. The National Minimum Wage Commission is authorized by the National Minimum Wage Act to evaluate and review the minimum wage annually. This indicates that a new evaluation of the salary is likely to occur in the upcoming years.
One of the wide range of reforms implemented in South Africa in the years after the country’s 1994 transition from apartheid to democracy was the minimum wage for domestic workers. Between 780.000 and over a million women, largely African and colored, work as domestic helpers in the nation. Five years following the first democratic elections that signaled the end of the Apartheid era, the process of establishing a minimum wage got under way seriously in 1999.
A little over eight years after the first democratic election, around the end of 2002, the minimum wage went into force. A procedure that included a trade union campaign, an examination of the pay and working conditions of domestic employees, as well as a number of workshops and public hearings, led to the minimum wage for domestic workers. One of the successes of South Africa after 1994 is the implementation of a minimum wage and other protections for domestic workers. It was a significant step in changing the status of domestic employees from “servant” to “worker,” who now have rights. It has also been explained as a step toward “de-slaving” and reclaiming the honorable nature of domestic work. In the past, domestic labour was possibly the worst example of how black women were exploited.
Government announcement on National Minimum wage
President Cyril Ramaphosa described the declaration of the long-awaited National Minimum Wage as a win for workers. The national minimum wage begun into effect on 1st January 2019, the President announced in 2018. “We have gathered here to declare that from the 1st of January 2019, no worker may be paid below the national minimum wage,” he told those attending the ceremony in Kliptown, Soweto. Attempt to make the national minimum wage This was done in order to fulfill the promise made in 1955 by the Congress of the People, which said that there would be a minimum wage for all workers. After more than 60 years, President Ramaphosa, said to South Africa, having gathered there where the declaration was made in order to fulfill that commitment.
“This is a great achievement for the working people of South Africa, who have had to endure generations of exploitation. It is a great achievement for the labour movement, which has placed this fundamental demand at the centre of its struggle for better conditions for workers,” said the President who founded the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) with James Motlatsi and Elijah Barayi in the 80s and became the union’s first General Secretary.
A young democracy like South Africa, which is working to overcome a history of extreme inequality and poverty, may celebrate the implementation of the minimum wage as well. The ceremony was also seen as the result of lengthy and involved discussions among the social partners. Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) chief executive officer Tanya Cohen reiterated the President’s remarks when she noted that the Ekurhuleni Declaration on November 4, 2014, underscored the significance of the minimum wage.
She claimed that the South African-made minimum wage of R20 per hour, or R3,500 per month, is a special creation specifically created for the requirements and circumstances of the nation. She claimed that setting a minimum wage was a positive move for the South African economy.“Rating agencies have consistently said to us that they want to see a stable labour market environment that goes hand in hand with a solid and growing economy. The fact that we’ve signed off on the minimum wage, it’s really regarded as credit positive,” she said.
Current Minimum wage adjustment
The minimum wage in South Africa was most recently adjusted by the government on 1 March 2022, when it was set at R23.19 for each regular hour worked, an increase of 6.9% from the minimum pay set in 2021. The following modification is scheduled to go into effect in March 2023. The prior increase was higher than the rate of inflation; however, since that time, the rate of inflation has surged, drastically altering market conditions. According to Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, the commission is likely to take into account the following factors when recommending its new minimum wage:
- Inflation, the cost of living, and the need to retain the value of the minimum wage
- Wage levels and collective bargaining outcomes
- Gross domestic product
- The ability of employers to carry on their businesses successfully
- The operation of small, medium, or micro-enterprises and new enterprises
- The likely impact of the recommended adjustment on employment or the creation of employment
One benefit of this invitation is that it gives South African companies the chance to weigh in on a choice that will have a significant impact, said Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer
“It is widely known that the majority of South Africans are suffering from poor socio-economic conditions, a concern which shall certainly be prevalent in the commission’s recommendations. An increase in the national minimum wage, that is above the rate of inflation will provide South Africans with more spending power which will be redirected into the economy.”
This announcement was issued in accordance with Section 6(5) of the National Minimum Wage Act, No. 9 of 2018, which amends the NMW in Schedules 1 and 2 of the National Minimum Act and was made public under Government Notice No. 44136.
As in previous years, the adjustment provides exceptions for several worker groups, including:
- Farmworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of R23.19 per hour
- Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R23.19 per hour
- Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R12.75 per hour
- Workers who have concluded learnership agreements contemplated in section 17 of the Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No 97 of 1998), are entitled to allowances contained in schedule 2.
Employers who unilaterally alter working hours or other employment circumstances in order to implement the NMW are engaging in unfair labor practices. The NMW is the wage that is paid for regular working hours; it does not include payments for perks like transportation, tools, food, or accommodation, payments in kind like board, bonuses, or presents. According to the Act of 2018, the NMW Commission must examine the rates every year and submit recommendations to the Minister regarding any modifications to the federal minimum wage, while also taking into account other points of view, such as those of the general public.
The following factors are taken into account by the Commission when determining the annual adjustment: the rate of inflation, the cost of living, and the requirement to maintain the value of the minimum wage; the gross domestic product; wage levels and the results of collective bargaining; productivity; the ability of employers to operate their businesses successfully; the operation of the small, medium, or micro-enterprises and new enterprises; and the likely impact of the recommended adjustment on employment or the creation of new jobs.
As of 1st March 2022, employees are free from sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17(2) and 18(3) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) if they earn more than R224 080,48 (two hundred and twenty-four thousand, eight hundred, forty-eight cents) annually. These sections govern, among other things, working hours, overtime, and compressed schedules to safeguard vulnerable employees. working hours, the typical number of hours worked, lunch breaks, rest breaks both daily and weekly, and pay for work done on Sundays, at night, and on public holidays.
What is the minimum wage for farm workers in South Africa?
From March 1, 2022, the minimum pay in the agriculture sector has been R23.19, the same as the federal minimum wage. Domestic workers on a farm are classified as farm workers and are entitled to the appropriate wage, which is something employers in the agricultural sector should be aware of.
What is the minimum wage for Domestic workers in South Africa?
The minimum salary for domestic workers has been R23.19 per hour from the beginning on March 1, 2022, matching the national minimum wage for that year. Prior to this change, the domestic worker sector was only required to pay 88,0 percent of the national minimum wage (it amounted to R19.09 in 2021). The minimum salary for domestic employees has now been equalized to the federal minimum wage for 2022, although this exception has now expired.
ALSO READ : How to claim UIF online