How much you should be paying your domestic worker in 2018

The Department of Labour says it will continue to brief and educate employers and employees on the new national minimum wage (NMW) which is set to come into effect from 1 May 2018.

Plans for the implementation of the NMW come into direct conflict with the current rates through the sectoral determination for the various sectors, including that of domestic workers, which set new minimum wage levels from 1 January.

According to the figures set out by the department of labour, domestic workers must get paid a minimum of R1,641 up to R2,545, depending on which area you live in. This is a 5% increase from 2017’s rates. However, these numbers are only effective to the implementation of the NMW in May 2018.

National Minimum Wage changes

While the current national minimum wage is set at R3,500 a month, things will work differently for domestic workers.

The agreed NMW at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) is pegged at R20 an hour for major sectors, with the exception of sectors such as farm and domestic workers.

These exceptions include:

  • The minimum wage for farm workers will be 90% of R20 per hour (R18 per hour);
  • The minimum wage for domestic workers will be 75% of R20 per hour (R15 per hour);
  • The minimum wage for workers on an Expanded Public Works Programme is R11 per hour.

Thus from May 2018, until further notice, domestic workers will earn only 75% of the NMW of R3,500 –  around R2,625 a month, or R15 an hour.

The reason for the lower wage is due to the higher risk of unemployment for domestic workers if the minimum wage is too high, National Treasury said in its NWM document.

Nedlac social partners have agreed that the farm, forestry and domestic sectors will be brought up to 100% of the NMW within two years, pending research by the National Minimum Wage Commission.

What it means for you and your domestic worker

Unlike the sectoral determinations for domestic workers, the NMW does not make a distinction between different geographical areas, which means, once implemented, you may have to pay your domestic worker more come May 2018.

It should be noted that the national minimum wage will take precedence over any contrary conditions in a contract – and if you are paying a domestic worker on anything other than an hourly basis, they may not be paid less than the minimum wage for the ordinary hours of work.

Labourguide.co.za also notes that it would constitute an unfair labour practice if employers unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment once the national minimum wage is implemented.

The NMW also excludes things like transport, equipment, food, board, allowances or any gifts and additional payments of any kind.

Outside of the set conditions, though, the NMW will not replace any contracts, or sectoral determinations, where the pay and benefits are already more favourable for the employee.

For example, if a minimum wage domestic worker is working less than 27 hours a week in Area A regions, they would be earning R15.28 an hour – this is already higher than the R15 rate set by the national minimum wage. That hourly rate will still stand, not be reduced.

However, employers who are currently paying the minimum sectoral determination wages on a monthly basis will end up paying more – between 3% and 13% for a domestic worker who is working 27 ordinary hours or more in Area A and B, and 7% per hour more for domestic workers working less than 27 ordinary hours in Area B.

The tables below outline the current minimum wages, and the changes you can expect from May 2018.


Sectoral Determination for domestic workers – January 2018

Domestic workers who work 27 ordinary hours a week or more

Minimum Area A Area B
Hourly Rate R13.05 R11.89
Weekly Rate R587.40 R534.91
Monthly Rate R2 545.22 R2 317.75

Domestic workers who work less than 27 ordinary hours a week

Minimum Area A Area B
Hourly rate R15.28 R14.03
Weekly Rate R412.60 R78.83
Monthly Rate R1 787.80 R1 641.48

Area A refers to large metropolitan municipalities and built up areas and suburbs – Area B is all other municipalities. You can read the full list of areas in the DoL publication.


Changes once national minimum wage is implemented

Minimum Current Minimum (Jan 2018) New Minimum (May 2018) Change
>27 Ordinary Hours – Area A – Monthly R2 545.22 R2 625.00 3%
>27 Ordinary Hours – Area B – Monthly R2 317.75 R2 625.00 13%
>27 Ordinary Hours – Area A – Hourly R13.05 R15.00 15%
>27 Ordinary Hours – Area B – Hourly R11.89 R15.00 26%
<27 Ordinary Hours – Area A – Hourly R15.28 R15.00 n/a
<27 Ordinary Hours – Area B – Hourly R14.03 R15.00 7%

Read: South Africans are ditching live-in domestic workers and swimming pools

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How much you should be paying your domestic worker in 2018