The National Assembly officially passed the new National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill at the end of May – nearly a full month after it was due to come into effect.
The bill sets a minimum wage of R20 per ordinary hour worked. This wage will be reviewed within 18 months of the commencement of the NMW Act and will be adjusted within two years of the commencement of the Act. Assuming a 45-hour week this equates to R3,900 per month.
While the minimum wage cannot be waived, and will take precedence over a contrary provision of a contract of employment, there is now the looming question among many South Africans on how the executive will manage the implementation of the bill.
According to a new commentary note published by VDMA Attorneys, the Department of Labour responded to this question in May by stating that, if and when the bill is passed, additional resources will be required to ensure that employers comply with the minimum standards.
However, it noted that, as it stands, the department does not have sufficient resources to assign labour inspectors to visit every workplace.
“The director general of the department has outlined a number of strategies to support compliance with the National Minimum Wage,” said VDMA.
“As the first port of call, they expect workers and unions to come forward and inform the department of non-compliance.
“There is also an obligation on the employers to ensure that they comply. Another initiative is what the department calls ‘blitz inspections’, which is an effort to focus on areas which are infamous for non-compliance with labour regulations. The department will issue compliance orders to those who do not conform to the National Minimum Wage,” it said.
It adds that the NMW will also be incorporated into the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, which it also extends the jurisdiction of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
“Labour inspectors now have the power to refer disputes relating to non-compliance to the to the CCMA and to appear at the CCMA in these disputes,” it said.
“The CCMA will have the power to make a compliance order issued by an inspector, an arbitration award, which award will carry the same weight as an order issued from the Labour Court.”