Trade federation Cosatu says that a number of new regulations are expected to benefit domestic workers in South Africa over the coming year.
These changes are:
- The higher minimum wage in 2022;
- Coming benefits from the Compensation of Injury on Duty Amendment Bill;
- Further protection from harm through three specific gender-based violence bills currently being processed.
Cosatu said that domestic workers have already benefited from the passing of the National Minimum Wage Act in 2019 and more should benefit in 2022 when domestic workers salaries are increased to 100% of the National Minimum Wage.
As of March 2021, the minimum wage in South Africa is R21.69 for each working hour, However, domestic workers are currently seen as an exception under the National Minimum Wage Act and are entitled to a minimum wage of R19.09 per hour.
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.
The commission has since 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.
Cosatu said that domestic workers are also set to benefit from the Compensation of Injury on Duty Amendment Bill which is currently being processed in parliament.
The bill will ensure that domestic workers are covered by the Compensation of Injury in Duty Fund for any workplace injury or illness, the trade federation said.
Benefits provided for under the Unemployment Insurance Fund were recently increased to extend maternity leave coverage and increase their benefits. Unemployment insurance payments were also increased.
There are also three gender-based violence bills currently being processed that seek to strengthen protection for women from sexual abuse and other forms of violence, Cosatu said.
“But overall, South Africa needs to work on its culture of human rights because many employers still treat their employees nothing more than glorified slaves.
“Workers, especially domestic workers, and migrant workers are reluctant to speak out in defence of their rights when four out of twenty workers are unemployed and millions continue to lose their jobs.”