The minimum and maximum wage South Africans believe they should be earning every month

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
Male R6 629
Female R7 256
Primary education or no schooling R6 469
Grades 8-11 education (or equivalent) R6 892
Matric education R6 924
Tertiary education R8 990
Employed R6 412
Unemployed R6 607
Pensioner R6 662
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

Read: How much CEOs, CFOs and directors earn in South Africa

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