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Domestic worker minimum wages increase

By Staff Writer
The Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, has announced a wage increase for workers in the Domestic Worker Sector. The increase will be effective from 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2016, when the new wage adjustments will be implemented.
The minimum wages for both area categories have been adjusted upwards. Area A* is more urban areas, whereas Area B* is more rural areas. For each area, there are two types of employees, those that work more than 27 hours a week, and those that work less than 27 hours a week. (Scroll down for the breakdown of the wages)
Madelein Taljaard, development manager at Sage HR and Payroll Pastel Division, noted: “The use of domestic employees for households in South Africa is an imperative to some. These employees not only clean the house and do the ironing, they often cook, look after the children and walk the dog. It remains mostly a female domain and a few formal skills are needed to get hired.
“As such, from 1 December 2015, the minimum wage for domestic employees will increase by 8% which results in R2 230.70 a month. In rural areas, the rate is R1 993.82 slightly lower.”
What the increase means
Despite the increase, looking at how pivotal domestic workers are in the lives of many people, Taljaard highlighted that their service is given very little value when it comes to wages.
“Domestic employees often need to survive low wages that are not enough to cover their basic needs. Excuses by employers for this range from accusations of not properly doing the job, theft and even arguments that food and a room is provided for,” said Taljaard.
How can you calculate a good wage?
Rather than simply going with the latest minimum wage figures released by the Department of Labour, there are tools that you can use to help you calculate a wage that will actually be able to provide for all of your domestic worker’s basic needs each month.
One of these if the Living Wage Calculator from Code for South Africa. This calculator allows you to input how much you pay your domestic worker per day/week/month and then calculates how much of their monthly expenses the salary covers.
You are able to determine the number of people living in your domestic worker’s house, their monthly food costs, transportation and housing costs, healthcare and education costs, as well as communication and recreation costs. When all of these costs are factored in, it provides you with your domestic workers average cost for monthly expenses.
According to Taljaard, based on the Living Wage Calculator, and the minimum wages set out by the Department of Labour, the new wages from 1 December 2015 “minimum wages pay for a mere 88% of 1 person’s household living costs. Three-quarters of all domestic employees are the sole income providers in their households, often looking after 3 or more family members. If so, minimum wage only covers 44% or even less of their needs. This is not enough to escape poverty,” stressed Taljaard.
Furthermore, Taljaard emphasised that domestic workers are entitled to three weeks of paid leave per year, as well as sick leave. In addition, work on Sundays and public holidays needs to be compensated for at a higher rate.
Tips for becoming a responsible employer of a domestic employee
Taljaard noted that there are a few simple steps that you can follow in order to become a responsible employer. These are the same as you would expect from any other job, and include:
  • Interviewing the candidate.
  • Having an employment contract, as stated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
  • Ensuring that the job description is clear, and that all duties and timeframes are understood by the domestic worker.
  • All tools to do the job need to be provided.
  • If disagreements occur, raise and solve them immediately.
Area A minimum wages
For employees that work more than 27 hours a week in Area A, they should not be paid less than R11.44 per hour, or R514.82 for a weekly rate, or R2 230.70 per month.
Employees that work 27 hours or less in Area A are required to be paid no less than: R13.39 per hour, or R361.50 per week, or R1 566.35 per month.
Area B minimum wages
For Area B domestic employees working more than 27 hours per week, should be paid no less than: R10.23 per hour, or R460.15 per week, or R1 993.82per week.
If a domestic worker in Area B works 27 hours or less per week, they should not be paid less than: R12.07 per hour, R325.98 per week, or R1 412.49 per month.
*For a full break down of the wage increases and the relevant areas, click here.

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