Celebrating how the conditions of employment have improved for domestic workers
04 Jul 2022
The last few years have seen improvements to the conditions of employment for South Africa’s domestic workers. Our July article details everything that a domestic worker’s employment contract should include, to make sure that you are up to date and compliant.
The estimated 1 to 1.5 million domestic workers in South Africa have made up the fabric of our homes and communities for generations, yet they have had few of the employment protections you would expect.
Many domestic workers were, and in some areas still are, subjected to:
- Unlawful deductions;
- Underpayment of national minimum wage;
- Non-compliant employment contracts;
- Long hours of work and non-registration with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Diseases Act.
The full extent of the need for change was exposed during the COVID-19 lock down, with the necessary changes to the Domestic Workers Act made to support the carers, gardeners and child-minders of our cities and suburbs.
The most notable change was in March 2022, which marked the first time that domestic workers were entitled to the same rate as the normal minimum wage, instead of the 75% of minimum wage from previous years. As your companion in employment practices, we have put together all the information you need to ensure that the domestic workers in your life are treated fairly, in accordance the updated labour practices.
Who is a domestic worker?
A “domestic worker” means an employee who performs domestic work in the home of his/her employer, and includes:
- Persons employed by a household as a driver of a motor vehicle; and
- Persons who take care of any person in that home.
What the amended Minimum Wage Act means for domestic workers
The National Minimum Wage Act 9 of 2018 sets out the minimum wage for domestic workers and specifies the working conditions such as hours of work, overtime pay, salary increases, deductions, annual and sick leave.
This legislation also lists adjusted minimum wages specific to the urban areas (‘A’ Areas) and the non-urban areas (‘B’ Areas), even though the definitions of the areas have not changed.
Who do these changes affect?
The changes affect those who work as domestics, gardeners, childminders (including drivers of children) and those who look after the sick, aged or disabled in private homes. The legislation also covers domestic workers who work as independent contractors.
Hours of work, leave and dismissal
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, and the Labour Relations Act state that domestic workers should not work more than 45 hours per week and should not work more than nine hours per day if they work a five-day week, or more than eight hours per day if they work more than a five-day week.
Domestic workers should not work more than 15 hours of overtime per week, and not more than three hours on any one day. They should also receive double pay on Sundays and public holidays.
An employer wishing to dismiss a domestic worker must give one week’s notice if the domestic worker has been employed for six months or less and two weeks’ notice if employed between 6 to 12 months. If the domestic worker has worked more than 12 months, 4 weeks’ notice must be given.
Employers whose domestic workers live on their property may deduct no more 10% of their salary for accommodation, providing the accommodation complies with the minimum standards laid down in the legislation. This means that an employer may deduct a maximum of 10% for lodging if he/she adheres to these requirements. If not, the deductions would be unlawful.
Injuries at work
As of February 2021, domestic workers qualify for benefits under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. This means that if a domestic worker or a dependent of a domestic worker dies as a result of injuries incurred while on duty, then they will also be able to claim from the Compensation Fund.
All employers must register their employees with the UIF and are advised to sign an employment contract with their domestic worker. It is recommended that even in the case of multiple employers, each employer registers with UIF. If you need a contract, you can download one from our site for free.
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Article sourced from Legal&Tax.
See also:(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)