Labour minister Thulas Nxesi has published the new minimum wage for South Africa.
In a gazette published on Monday evening (8 February), the minister said that the national minimum wage is now R21.69 for each ordinary hour. This change will take effect from 1 March 2021.
The gazette also provides exceptions for a number of worker groups
- Farmworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of R21.69 per hour;
- Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R19.09 per hour;
- Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R11.93 per hour.
The National Minimum Wage Act was first proclaimed in 2018, setting a historic precedent in the protection of low-earning (vulnerable) workers in South Africa and provided a platform for reducing inequality and huge disparities in income in the national labour market.
The national minimum wage was first implemented on 1 January 2019 at a level of R20 per hour. On 1 March 2020, the minimum wage base rate was adjusted to R20.76 per hour.
In terms of the law it is an unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment in implementing the national minimum wage.
The national minimum wage is the amount payable for the ordinary hours of work and does not include payment of allowances (such as transport, tools, food or accommodation) payments in kind (board or lodging), tips, bonuses and gifts.
In November 2020, the national minimum wage commission said that ideally, a national minimum wage should be applicable to all employees across the country and irrespective of sector.
To avoid excessive disruption, however, the Minimum Wage Act established lower minimums for farm and domestic workers, with a process of gradual equalisation to the national minimum wage over time.
Section 6 of the Act mandates the Commission to make recommendations to the Minister of Employment and Labour on this topic.
In 2018 farmworkers were entitled to a minimum wage of R18 per hour and domestic workers to a minimum wage of R15 per hour. The minimum wages of farmworkers and domestic workers increased in March 2020 to R18.68 and R15.57 respectively.
Thee recommendation of the commission is that the minimum wages of farmworkers be equalized with the national minimum wage with effect from the date of the overall adjustment in 2021.
The commission recommended that the minimum wage of domestic workers be increased to 88% of the national minimum wage in 2021 and to 100% in 2022.
This adjustment of the minimum wage for domestic workers and farmworkers would amount to an increase of about R450 per month for a domestic worker and about R350 per month for a farmworker.