Domestic workers

Government says South Africans are failing domestic workers – here’s how much you should pay them

During the month of May, the Ministry of Employment and Labor carried out a number of inspections of employers operating in the domestic worker sector in Mpumalanga.

He found that many were lacking when it came to respecting labor laws.

The inspections were aimed at determining whether employers were complying with the Basic Terms and Conditions of Employment Act, Sectoral Determination, including the National Minimum Wage Act (NMW).

Department spokesperson Teboho Thejane said the outcome of this exercise indicated the need for an advocacy session with the domestic worker sector.

The domestic worker sector has long been identified as a problematic sector in terms of respect for human rights. work laws, with workers still being paid lower wages and subject to sorts of abuse and exploitation, Thejane said.

The inspections and resulting seminars organized by the department come in a year in which, for the first time, the national minimum wage for domestic workers has been brought into line with that of other sectors.

In addition, domestic workers can now be registered as employees with the Workmen’s Compensation Fund.

Domestic worker salary

As of March 1, 2022, the national minimum wage for each ordinary hour worked has been reduced from R21.69 to R23.19. For domestic workers, the minimum wage increase has been much larger, starting at a rate of R19.09 per hour, or 88% of the national minimum wage in 2021.

Assuming that a domestic worker works 160 hours per month (eight hours per day, 20 days per month), the monthly salary amounts to R3,710 for the month.

Although this is the absolute lowest that South Africans can legally pay their domestic worker, data released by cleaning service SweepSouth in 2021 shows not only a dramatic drop in income due to the pandemic, but a continuing trend of workers servants not earning enough to cover their most basic needs.

According to the data, domestic workers – who are not on the SweepSouth platform – earn between R2,614 and 2,916 per month.

The survey’s most worrying finding is that one in five domestic workers (21%) earn less than R1,500 a month, and two-thirds earn less than the 2021 minimum wage. Only 1% said they earn more R6000 per month.

For a 40-hour week, the minimum wage translates to around R4,019 per month and R4,522 for a 45-hour week.

“Overtime must be paid for all hours worked beyond 45 hours and must be paid at 1.5 times the employee’s normal salary. Overtime pay for domestic workers is a minimum of R34.79 per hour,” said Amy Tekie, co-founder of the Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance.

basic human rights

A January report by Izwi Domestic Workers Alliance and Solidarity highlighted human rights abuses against live-in domestic workers in South Africa.

The report describes how employers and section title complexes routinely impose rules that directly violate the constitutional rights of workers, including the rights to privacy, freedom of movement, family life and adequate housing. .

“These violations go unchecked due to the private spaces in which they operate and the high degree of informality and vulnerability in the domestic work sector,” Tekie said.

Findings contained in the report:

  • 25% of respondents are unable to lock their room or chalet;
  • 77% are not allowed to have a spouse or child to live with them;
  • 12% said their employer had rules about what foods they could eat during their off hours;
  • 20% said their employer had rules about where they could go during their off hours;
  • 17% said their employer had rules about having a baby.

More than three-quarters of respondents residing in staff quarters in a complex, apartment building or estate are not allowed to receive visitors, and half are not allowed to use the parties municipalities, according to the report.

New invoice

The Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Amendment Bill, first introduced in Parliament in September 2020 by Minister of Labor and Employment Thulas Nxesi, has been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for signing into law .

The bill aims to further formalize the domestic worker sector, allowing qualification for benefits under the Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Act.

So far, domestic workers have been excluded from these benefits – an oversight that the government says has gone on for too long.

Under the new laws, domestic workers who are injured on the job can claim from the Compensation Fund, and dependents of a domestic worker who died from injuries sustained in the line of duty will also be able to claim.

Employers of domestic workers and employees are also required to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The bill also defines labor brokerage as part of the “primary employer” and holds the primary employer liable for injuries that occur in the workplace.


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