Here’s how much money government employees earn in South Africa

Public Service and Administration minister Ayanda Dlodlo has outlined how much government employees earn in South Africa, and the cost of introducing the latest wage increase.

Answering in a written parliamentary Q&A this week, Dlodlo explained that there are currently 16 salary bands across the public service, with employees in band 1 earning an average salary of R103,562.

By comparison, public sector workers in band 16 currently earn an average of over R2.1 million.

Dlodlo also provided a breakdown of how many workers are in each salary band, with the largest number of workers falling between salary bands 5 and 9.

Salary band Total number of employees per salary level Current average salary per salary level
1 263 R103 562
2 77 651 R171 278
3 69 003 R206 957
4 38 663 R247 296
5 201 244 R283 227
6 129 361 R332 985
7 306 703 R411 227
8 159 899 R479 868
9 99 927 R567 956
10 54 510 R710 273
11 35 365 R851 022
12 27 399 R1 222 246
13 7 660 R1 147 609
14 2 405 R1 378 620
15 528 R1 661 168
16 712 R2 130 602

Data from the 2020 Budget shows that the average government worker remuneration passed R400,000 a year in 2019, with this figure heading towards the R450,000 mark in 2021.

This is not spread equally across all public servants, but there has been a clear trend towards public servants being paid a lot more, in general.

Research conducted by market analytics group Intellidex at the end of 2020 found that using inflation-adjusted income bands, there has been a declining share of government personnel earning less than an inflation-adjusted R20,000 per month – from 85% of staff in 2006/07 to 48% in 2018/19 – and a rising share of staff earning above that figure.

The fastest-growing income band consists of staff earning above an inflation-adjusted monthly salary of R30,000. The number has increased over five-fold in 12 years, it said. There has been a twelvefold increase in staff earning between R30,000 and R40,000 per month, and a five-fold increase in the number of staff making in excess of R60,000 per month.

Intellidex said that the increase in top-earners in the public service had been driven by a dramatic rise in the number of medical professionals – overwhelmingly doctors – rather than ordinary public servants, administrators and policymakers.

By comparison, the average formal sector salary in South Africa is R23,122 a month, including bonuses and overtime, according to Stats SA. Research conducted by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group meanwhile, found that 56% of South Africans live on less than R1,300 a month.


Read: If you want to be a top earner in South Africa, work for government

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Here’s how much money government employees earn in South Africa