New minimum wage for South Africa – here’s how much domestic workers should be paid

 ·2 Feb 2024

The Department of Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Mxesi has gazetted a large increase to South Africa’s minimum wage.

Effective 1 March 2024, the minimum wage will increase from R25.42 per hour to R27.58.

This marks an 8.5% increase – far ahead of the latest inflation data, with CPI averaging 6.0% in 2023.

The minimum wage for domestic workers and farm workers will also be raised to R27.58.

Workers employed in the expanded public sector programme will be entitled to a minimum wage of R15.16 per hour.

When calculated at 8 hours per day, the monthly wage for domestic workers (160 hours a month) should increase from around R4,100 to just over R4,400 – an increase of R300.

Trouble for domestic workers

The above-inflation increase in the minimum wage for domestic workers comes at a time when those who can employ them are struggling financially.

Data from Eight20 showed that middle-class households have a credit-instalments-to-monthly-income ratio of 73%, while heavy-hitters (the wealthiest 5% of the population) carry a ratio of 61%.

This shows that households in South Africa that are most likely to hire a domestic worker have little space in their budgets to take on more costs in 2024, with little relief in the short term amid high interest rates and worsening real wages.

Despite the minimum wage, domestic services platform SweepSouth noted that the average domestic worker earns under R3,000 per month.

Additionally, the group said that thousands of domestic worker jobs were lost in 2023 due to various reasons, such as economic troubles and increased levels of emigration.

The number of domestic worker jobs has dropped significantly, quarterly employment data from Stats SA shows.

Despite historically having 1 million domestic workers employed in the country, this figure took a hit after 250,000 domestic workers lost their jobs in the quarter following the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Although employment figures recovered in subsequent quarters, it never reached the numbers seen before.

Four years later, the sector is still struggling to get these jobs back, with the latest data showing roughly 150,000 domestic workers still lost to the market.

The Gazette from the Department of Employment and Labour can be found below:

Read: Government makes big BEE target changes

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter