Some South African workers will have to wait for a national minimum wage review before getting increases

With the private security sector minimum wages set to lapse at the end of August 2019, there will be no new increases in the sector for now, says the department of employment and labour’s Mogodi Masenya.

Speaking at a labour seminar on Thursday (29 August), Masenya said that workers in the sector would have to wait until the end of the year when the National Minimum Wage is reviewed.

He said the sector’s minimum wage and conditions of employment are now fully subjected to the prescriptions of the national minimum wage and the amended Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

The national minimum wage (NMW) came into effect from 1 January 2019 at a prescribed rate of R20 per hour.  The NMW Act makes provision for granting of exemptions and the annual review of the minimum wage.

When the NMW was introduced, sectoral determinations which governed minimum wages in a number of vulnerable sectors remained in force.

Some of the sectors were given a transition period before they were fully subjected to the NMW Act. These include the domestic workers, farm/forestry workers, workers in the expanded public works programme, and learnerships.

The private security sector – identified as one of the most vulnerable – has been subjected to Sectoral Determination (SD) which spells out minimum wages, number of leave days, working hours and termination rules among other conditions of employment.

Minimum wage takes precedence

Speaking at the seminar, the department of employment and labour’s Pravin Naidoo said that the national minimum wage always takes precedence as a baseline in sectors previously governed by sectoral determination.

Naidoo said it was an illegal act by an employer to alter the basic conditions of employment when he or she is expected to implement the minimum wage.

“It is an illegal and unfair labour practice in terms of Labour Relations Act to alter conditions of an employee. When one does that, it constitutes non-compliance,” said Naidoo.

Naidoo emphasised that the NMW is paid as liquid cash and does not include the various allowances, payments in kind and other alternative forms of payments.

He added that the National Minimum Wage Act provides that:

  • Every employer may not pay wages that are below the minimum wage;
  • That the NMW cannot be varied by contract, collective agreement or law;
  • The NMW constitutes a term of the worker’s contract except to the extent that the contract provides for a more favourable wage and that it is unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment in implementing the NMW.

Read: How much money security guards get paid in South Africa – and why government is keeping tabs on them

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Some South African workers will have to wait for a national minimum wage review before getting increases