Minimum wages for domestic/farm workers
National Minimum Wage Effective 1 March 2020
The minister of labour, Thulas Nxesi, has gazetted South Africa’s new minimum wage which will take effect from 1 March 2020.
The gazette states that the new national minimum wage is R20.76 – an increase of 3.8%. This is well below the desired increase of R22.50 which had previously been floated by the country’s major unions.
The unions argued that the level of R20 per hour was settled at back in 2017, when the NMW was first tabled, and it has not changed since then – even while the cost of living in the country continued to rise and the economy deteriorated.
Minimum monthly wage
For employees who work 45 hours per week, the minimum monthly wage will be just short of R3900. If the contract of employment makes provision for less than 45 hours per week, the monthly rate can be less than this amount. Employers are not permitted to unilaterally reduce hours of work or change other conditions of employment in response to the implementation of the NMW.
Are benefits included?
Employers are restricted in the way that they structure the remuneration package. The NMW excludes allowances that are paid to enable employees to work (such as transport and equipment), or payment in kind (such as board or accommodation), as well as bonuses, tips or food. So, for example, one cannot argue that you pay an employee less than R20 per hour because you contribute to their uniform or provide them with meals.
Reducing hours of work
Employers are not be permitted to unilaterally change working hours due to the implementation of the NMW. Any reduction of hours of work will have to be negotiated.
There is provision for employers to apply for exemption of up to a 10% reduction by means of an electronic system. The National Minimum Wage Exemption System is publicly accessible online at https://nmw.labour.gov.za. Alternatively employers may approach their nearest branch of the Department of Labour.