What are your domestic worker's rights?

By Staff Writer
Your domestic worker has worked for you for years and she’s part of the family now. But are you working within the law when it comes to how you’ve hired her and other staff members that help you to maintain your home?
There are laws to protect domestic worker’s rights and also anyone else you may hire to help you in the upkeep of your home. Most of the rights and conditions of employing a nanny, domestic worker and gardener are laid out in the Department of Labour’s Sectoral Determination for the Domestic Worker Sector.
The full sectoral determination can be found here. However, the sectoral determination does not cover domestic workers working on farms.
The following are covered by the sectoral determination:
·         All domestic workers in South Africa working in a private household,
·         People employed by employment services,
·         Independent contractors who are doing domestic work,
·         A person doing gardening in a private home,
·         People who look after children, sick or old people and people with disabilities in a private home,
·         As well as a person driving for the household.
“The Act also gives pregnant domestic workers the right to take maternity leave, and allows for deductions from a domestic worker’s pay only under certain conditions,” the Department of Labour states.
In April 2003, domestic workers were required to be registered with the Department of Labour under the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Act. Since then a number of websites and brochures have sprung up detailing your domestic worker is entitled to, and what that means for you as an employer.
While you might think that all employment related communications can be handled verbally, it is not  the best way to conduct business. According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (click here), all employees should be provided with a written document outlining the terms of their employment (their job description, working hours, salary details and other information) on the first day of employment. This helps to protect both parties involved.
Make sure you discuss what is expected of your employee, how much they will earn and when they will be allowed time off, so that nobody is let down or feels like they are being unfairly treated.
For a copy of a contract, click here.
For a full list of what should go in the contract, click here.
The contract of employment does make provisions for termination, as with any job. However, if you have to let a worker go you have to give a valid reason. If an employee is dismissed without a valid reason or without a fair procedure, the employee may approach the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for assistance according to the Department of Labour’s website.
If a domestic worker has been employed for six months or less, then they must be given one weeks’ notice. If they have been employed for more than six months, then they must be given four weeks’ notice.
“The employer is required to provide the domestic worker who resides in accommodation that is situated on the premises of the employer or that is supplied by the employer, with accommodation for a period of one month, or if it is a longer period, until the contract of employment could lawfully have been terminated,” says the Department of Labour.
If a domestic worker lives on your premises, then they are allowed to stay for a month after notice is given. In terms of paying for accommodation during that time, it is at the discretion of the owner of the property.
If a domestic worker has been dismissed “due to a change in their economic, technological or structural set-up, [the employer] is responsible for severance pay to the employee,” says PaySolutions a human resources company.
Minimum wage
In terms of minimum wage, the Department of Labour revised the minimum amount a domestic worker is allowed to earn in 2013. They split the costs up depending on what area the domestic worker was working in. Area A is mainly for urban areas, such as cities and towns. Area B is for outlying areas such as rural areas.
The Domestic Sector’s current sectoral determination came into effect from 1 December 2013 and will end on 30 November 2014. The minimum wages apply to domestic workers who work more than 45 hours per week, as follows:
·              Area A R9.63 hourly, R433.35 weekly (for a 45 hour week),
·              Area B R8.30 hourly, R373.50 weekly (for a 45 hour week).
Every domestic worker must receive, on payday, a payslip showing the employer’s name and address, period of payment, the domestic worker’s rate and overtime rate, and wage. However, there are deductions which are allowed to be made from the domestic workers salary. These include:
•         Medical insurance,
•         Savings,
•         Pension or Provident fund,
•         Trade union subscription,
•         Order of account payment to a registered financial institution,
•         Rentals,
•         Loan or advance (not more than 10% of total wage).
There are also deductions which are not allowed to be made, such as:
•         Any amount greater than the actual remuneration received. So if you pay your worker R1000 your deductions can’t amount to more than their wage of R1,000.
•         Breakages (crockery, electrical appliances etc.),
•         Damages (ironing),
•         Meals provided during working time,
•         Clothing,
•         And any training of a domestic worker.
For a complete list of deductions, as well as payment areas, click here.
Working hours
The Department of Labour has prescribed working hours for domestic workers. These cover normal times and overtime, as well as public holidays and weekends, to make sure that domestic workers are treated fairly and compensated for their work according to the pay scale (see above).
Domestic workers are not allowed to work more than 45 hours a week. Furthermore, they are not allowed to work more than nine hours a day, if they are working for five days a week, and no more than eight hours a day, if they are working more than five days a week.
A domestic worker may not work more than 15 hours overtime per week but may not work more than 12 hours on any day, including overtime.
“Overtime is payable when domestic workers work longer than the ordinary hours prescribed per day or per week.  Overtime is calculated at 1.5 times the hourly rate of pay. Sunday overtime is calculated at two times the hourly rate of pay. If domestic workers work on a public holiday, then they are entitled to an additional day’s pay,” said the Department of Labour.
Nobody likes working in bad conditions, so make sure you treat your domestic worker right by sticking to the law and compensating them properly for the work they do. A contract is the best place to start so that both parties know exactly what they are in for, and your domestic worker knows what is expected of them. 

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