SweepSouth, a digital-booking cleaning service, has published its annual report for 2019, showing how much domestic workers in South Africa earn right now.
The report is based on the responses of more than 1,300 domestic workers and offers an in-depth look at the conditions of the industry.
The average respondent in the report was:
- A single mother (71% of respondents) who is the main breadwinner of their household (79%);
- She usually supports four people including herself, on an income between R2,001 and R3,000 a month with no additional support from government grants (64%);
- She typically works between six and seven hours a day (43%) and travels an average of between one and two hours a day by taxi (43%);
- The highest educational qualification she has received is a matric (55%).
Stats SA’s latest unemployment data showed that around 15,000 domestic workers lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2019. The stats body’s data showed that around one million domestic workers are employed in the country.
The decline in domestic worker jobs over this period is significant because it lines up with the introduction of the new National Minimum Wage which came into effect on 1 January 2019.
While the NMW is set at R20 per hour, domestic workers were one of three category exemptions, where the minimum was set at R15 per hour.
In line with these changes, SweepSouth found that there was an increase in the average national domestic worker wage to R2,699 per month.
“The fact that the majority of respondents report that they earn between R2,001 and R3,000 a month means that it is probable that most employers are complying with the minimum wage regulations,” it said.
More worrying is that a combined 41% of respondents indicated that they are earning less than R2,000 a month – well below minimum wage.
Just 16% indicated that they earn more than R4,000 a month.
The survey showed that on a minimum wage of R2,699 per month means that many domestic workers cannot afford to pay their monthly expenses.
The results shows that the average domestic worker spent:
- R115 a month on data/áirtime;
- R1,100 a month on food;
- R279 per month on electricity;
- R455 a month on transport;
- R1,136 a month on rent.
“Therefore it is imperative that the minimum wage be raised in order for domestic workers to be able to cover their basic living costs,” SweepSouth said.
“With only 49% of domestic workers currently being able to save anything at the end of the month, the majority who are able to do so save less than R200 per month (21% of respondents).”