The national minimum wage has been passed by parliament

Parliament officially passed the controversial National Minimum Wage Bill on Tuesday (30 May).

The bill was reportedly passed by just one vote – just one more than the required 50% plus one, or 201 votes, of the 400-strong House – after opposition parties the EFF and DA walked out on the process in protest.

Originally slated to be introduced on 1 May, the bill has faced stiff opposition from political parties, unions and civil rights groups, with the complaints focusing on everything from the proposed wage being too high, too low and the time-frames when the amounts should be revised.

The revised bill means that all workers who do not fall under the farm/forestry, domestic sectors, Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and learnerships should not be paid less than the set R20 minimum wage per hour.

According to the National Minimum Wage Bill, the farm/forestry sector’s minimum wage is R18 an hour, which is 90% of the set minimum wage.

The domestic sector will get 75%, which amounts to R15, EPWP workers will get 55%, which is R11, whereas the wage for learnership agreements are set out in Schedule 2 of the National Minimum Wage Bill.

However these amounts will be adjusted within two years of the bill being officially implemented – a process which is likely to draw as much discussion as the bill itself.

Government has also launched an online tool for employers to apply for an exemption from paying the new wage. The new system will require the employers’ financial information, household income, commercial balance sheet, working hours and motivation.

After a thorough audit of the company, the department will then determine the granting or rejection of an exemption.

With parliament now adjourning for an extended two-month recess in preparation for 2019’s national elections, the bill will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for confirmation, before being signed into law by president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Read: 5 major new labour laws that you need to know about – including extended parental leave

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The national minimum wage has been passed by parliament