The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has published the findings of its latest survey on wage inequality in South Africa.
The annual South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) is a nationally representative sample survey of adults aged 16 and older that investigates public opinion.
One of the major focuses of the survey explored South Africans’ perceptions regarding appropriate legal interventions for both South Africa’s highest and lowest earners.
This includes the proposal of a ‘new’ minimum wage, as well as a limit on how much executives and other top earners should be paid.
The results showed that South Africans believe that a mean figure of R6,953 per month is an appropriate minimum amount, substantially more than the R3,500 for a 40-hour week proposed in the National Minimum Wage Bill.
The HSRCalso noted that there were clear differences between sub-populations,with figures ranging from rural farm dwellers believing R5,707 to be adequate, in comparison to R9,678 for students and R10,121 among adolescents.
|Group||Preferred minimum wage|
|Aged between 16-19||R10 121|
|Aged between 20-24||R6 879|
|Aged between 25-34||R6 380|
|Aged between 35-49||R6 618|
|Aged between 50-64||R6 597|
|Aged 65+||R6 604|
|Primary education or no schooling||R6 469|
|Grades 8-11 education (or equivalent)||R6 892|
|Matric education||R6 924|
|Tertiary education||R8 990|
|People who subjectively described themselves as ‘poor’||R6 231|
|People who subjectively described themselves as ‘just getting by’||R7 045|
|People who subjectively described themselves as ‘non-poor’||R7 543|
|National average||R6 953|
Cap on wages
The survey also asked South Africans their opinions on introducing wage caps for individuals in charge of large companies.
Opinions about executive pay were recorded on a five-point scale (ranging from ‘strongly agree’ that a law should be introduced to limit earnings to ‘strongly disagree’).
In total, 53% of the participants agreed that executive pay should be limited, 15% disagreed, 22% remained neutral and 11% were uncertain of the appropriate course of action or did not answer the question.
“Interesting differences between attitudes of sub-groups also emerged from this question, as Black Africans displayed greater support for limiting executive pay, in comparison to White and Indian adults, the HSRC said.
“More unemployed people favoured income restrictions than employed respondents, as did young people in comparison to those over 50 years old.”
“The results resonate with data from elsewhere in the world – for example in the US, between half and three-fifths of Americans concur with this kind of regulatory policy. Populations in the highly unequal societies of South Africa and the US therefore agree that measures to restrict corporate salaries should be introduced,” it said.
According to a report released by remuneration specialists 21st Century in April, executives earn more depending on the size of the company, with CEOs at large cap businesses earning an average total guaranteed package of R5.25 million, while CEOs at small cap companies earn an average of R2.77 million.
Similarly, executive directors can expect to earn R3.5 million at large cap companies, while those at small cap companies can expect to earn an average of R1.8 million.
Total Guaranteed Package by company size
|Position||Small cap||Medium cap||Large cap|
|CEO||R2 772 000||R3 215 500||R5 250 000|
|CFO||R1 800 500||R2 160 000||R3 541 000|
|Executive director||R1 805 500||R2 234 000||R3 516 000|