By Reon Janse van Rensburg
On Monday 8 February, the government published a new minimum wage for domestic workers in the Government Gazette.
The minimum wage that is valid from 1 March 2021 requires that domestic workers be paid R19,09 per hour.
The minimum wage for domestic workers is still less than the general minimum wage which was increased by 4,5% and currently stands at R21,69 per hour.
According to the minimum wage commission, the two amounts will probably be placed on an equal scale in the coming years because the minimum wage must apply to all employees across South Africa, regardless of the sector.
The minimum wage of domestic workers is not only valid for domestic workers whose duties include cleaning houses, but also for gardeners, drivers, childcare workers and those caring for the elderly, sick, frail or disabled people in private households, but excludes, however, the employees who perform the abovementioned duties on farms.
From 2021 the minimum wage for farmworkers will be the same as the overall national minimum wage. Farmworker’s wages increased by 16% and went from R18,68 to R21,69 per hour.
According to the minimum wage commission, the adjustment to domestic worker’s wages, depending on the different pay models, will mean that a domestic worker will earn approximately R450 more per month. This amount will in all likelihood increase again in 2022.
According to Morné Malan, Head of Communication at Solidarity, the true minimum wage ultimately remains at zero. In other words, it may benefit certain individuals who can keep their jobs, but others will lose their jobs and move from a lower wage to no salary. Furthermore, even those who do benefit from this in terms of compensation run the risk of losing several other benefits and conditions of their services such as free meals and the like.
Most people who employ domestic workers are themselves employees who work in various sectors. Many of the people who employed domestic workers also suffered as a result of the radical lockdown regulations introduced by government, which resulted in they themselves not being able to generate an income, which enables them to look after their domestic workers.
It is also worrying that this decision was made, especially as the latest Labour Force Survey of Statistics SA in 2020 indicated that domestic workers were worst affected by job losses and that almost 260 000 domestic workers lost their jobs in 2020.
Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist of the Efficient Group, warned in 2020 against the proposal to increase the minimum wage for domestic workers because, according to him, it would lead to very high levels of unemployment in the sector. He argued that the plan was not well thought through.
Kommissie stel stewige loonverhogings voor vir huishulpe – https://solidariteit.co.za/kommissie-stel-stewige-loonverhogings-voor-vir-huishulpe/
All the new minimum wages in SA – with big increases for domestic workers – https://www.businessinsider.co.za/all-the-new-minimum-wages-2021-domestic-workers-2021-2
How much you should be paying your domestic worker in 2021 – https://businesstech.co.za/news/finance/466800/how-much-you-should-be-paying-your-domestic-worker-in-2021/