Labour Minister Oliphant upwardly adjusts domestic workers’ annual wages

NOVEMBER 25, 2014

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has approved the new wage structure for the Domestic Workers Sector following the upward adjustment of the new minimum wage.

The latest relief comes on the eve of the festive season. The minimum wage adjustment is in line with legislation to protect workers in South Africa in sectors in which they are likely to be exploited, or where worker organisations and trade unions are absent, and workers are not covered by regulating mechanisms.  

The new sectoral determination of domestic workers starting from 1 December 2014 to 30 November 2015 prescribes that the minimum wages for domestic workers who work more than 27 ordinary hours per week as follows:

  • Area A (those in major metropolitan areas) is R10.95 hourly rate, R476.68 weekly rate and R2065.47 monthly rate.
  • Area B (those not covered in Area A) R9.30 hourly rate, R418.32 weekly rate and R1812.57  monthly rate.

While the Minimum wages for domestic workers from 1 December 2014 to 30 November 2015 who work 27 ordinary hours per week or less is as follows:

  • Area A (those in major metropolitan areas) is R12.40 hourly rate, R334.74 weekly rate and R1450.33 monthly rate.
  • Area B (those not covered in Area A) R10.98 hourly rate, R296.35 weekly rate and R1284.09  monthly rate.

The latest Sectoral Determination (SD) which establishes minimum wages for Domestic Workers will be applicable for the period 1 December 2014 to 30 November 2015. Its implementation is in the last year of the current three-year sectoral determination cycle. 

In June 2014 the Department of Labour hosted Domestic Worker Sector national public hearings to review the current three-year cycle of sectoral determination prescribing minimum wage and conditions of employment for the sector – with a view to gauge the feelings of the stakeholders on the current SD structure on whether it should be modified and how!

The road show engagements focused on issues such as at which minimum level should the new wage rate be set? Whether future minimum wage increases should still be based on the consumer price index (CPI); issues of leave provisions (annual, sick, family responsibility, maternity, paternity etc); and other related matters.

In addition to the national public hearings Labour Minister in 2013 also initiated a consultative process to engage with the domestic workers through “Izimbizo” going to various provinces to get a better understanding of the Domestic Worker Sector and how to deal with problems facing the sector.

Whilst the jury is still out on whether sectoral determinations will continue in future, a new debate has started on the possibility of introducing the national minimum wage in South Africa especially for the vulnerable.