An insufficient salary is the biggest challenge South Africa’s domestic workers are currently facing in 2017, according to Namhla Duma, Director at the Premium Domestic Services in a Worker’s day interview on Morning Live.
This follows a recent report by the International Labour Organisation which found that close to 1 million South African women are currently employed as domestic workers around the country, and that South African domestic workers are the least protected around the world.
“I don’t think that people are knowledgeable about exactly how much they are meant to be paying their domestic workers,” said Duma.
“Some may not be compliant, but also (South Africa’s) domestic workers are at a point where the minimum wage is just not enough for them to survive.”
According to Duma, the current minimum wages vary across the country’s major economic areas and on the amount of hours employers expect them to work.
“In Area A – so that’s your urban areas – you are looking at about R2,400 and R2,500 a month. Area B (non-urban areas) is a little bit less than that at around R2,200. That’s not a living wage, that’s a drop in the ocean.”
Duma stressed that many domestic workers were struggling to make ends meet on these wages and that these amounts should be the bare minimum an employer pays. She also noted that the issue was compounded by employers expecting their domestic workers to consistently work overtime.
“Legally you are supposed to work an 8 or 9 hour day, which works out to a maximum of 45 hours a week. And obviously Sundays and public holidays are overtime, which they don’t have to work if they don’t want to – depending on the arrangement with the employee.”
The Department of Labour announced an increase in the minimum wage for domestic workers across South Africa as of 1 December 2016. According to the definition of a “domestic worker” as provided by the department, this includes all housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, and domestic drivers, among others.
As highlighted by Duma, these wages are split into two area categories with “Area A” referring to large metropolitan municipalities and built up areas and suburbs and “Area B” referring to all other municipalities.
Domestic workers who work 27 ordinary hours a week or more
|Minimum||Area A||Area B|
|Monthly Rate||R2 422.54||R2 205.17|
Domestic workers who work less than 27 ordinary hours a week
|Minimum||Area A||Area B|
|Monthly Rate||R1 701.06||R1 562.21|
South Africa’s national minimum wage, which is set to take effect in May 2018, will push the new minimum for workers including domestic workers, to R3,500 a month (or R20 an hour).
Deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that this introductory wage was not a living wage, but rather a starting point for the discussion around the minimum wage level going forward.