How much South Africans are paying domestic workers in 2018

A poll conducted by BusinessTech provides some indication of how much South Africans compensate domestic workers each month ahead of the introduction of a national minimum wage on 1 May 2018.

The poll was run from 19 February 2018 to 22 February 2018, and attracted in excess of 6,000 respondents.

As many as 45% of respondents said that they do not employ a domestic worker. Data from the StatsSA and the department of labour meanwhile, has shown a decline in the number of domestic work positions over the past quarter.

The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey showed that domestic worker jobs declined by 29,000 in the last quarter, although the sector increased by 23,000 jobs year-on-year.

According to Stats SA, there are 1.016 million domestic workers employed in South Africa, sitting in the middle of the range of 950,000 and 1.1 million domestic workers employed between 2008 and 2017.

In household surveys run by financial institutions, and BusinessTech, respondents have noted that domestic workers are among the first casualties in a household budget cut.

Among the respondents who do employ a domestic worker, the going rate is well below the limits set by the sectoral determination for that particular field of work.

According to the figures set out by the Department of Labour in December 2017, domestic workers must get paid a minimum of R1,641 up to R2,545 in 2018, depending on which area you live in.

One in five respondents said that they pay their domestic workers less than this amount (under R2,500 a month), though this may also reflect those who hire temporary workers that fall into the category of workers working less than 27 ordinary hours a week.

Data released by National Treasury in 2017 found that, on average, domestic workers earned as little as R1,100 a month.

Aside from the above, the next most common pay range is between R2,500 and R3,500 a month, where 18% of respondents said their monthly payment falls.

This is the range in which South Africa’s new national minimum wage for domestic workers will fall when it is implemented in May 2018.

In May the national minimum wage – which is set at R3,500 a month or R20 per hour – will kick in. Notably, however, things will work differently for domestic workers.

The agreed NMW at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) comes with some exception for 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.

The tables below outline what domestic workers should get paid up to and after 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: How much you should be paying your domestic worker in 2018

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How much South Africans are paying domestic workers in 2018