How much petrol attendants earn in South Africa – and how much you tip them

It’s customary to tip good service in South Africa, with the acceptable amount put at between 10-15%. But how much is enough when it comes to tipping petrol attendants?

Thanks to high unemployment and low wages – and despite changes to the National Minimum Wage Act – more than not, we feel obliged to tip petrol attendants for cleaning our windscreens, and checking tyre pressure, oil and water.

However, a new poll conducted by BusinessTech, which drew over 4,000 responses, found that not all South Africans subscribe to this train of thought, with nearly half (43%) of respondents saying they do not tip at all.

This is up from a prior poll in 2018, which showed that 37% of people do not tip petrol attendants.

Nearly a third of respondents (30%) said that they tip R5 (34% in 2018), followed by those who give R10 (13%) and R2 (9%).

A combined 5% of respondents said they tip R20 or more.

What petrol attendants earn

Petrol stations employ around 70,000 people across the country, with petrol attendants generally fitting the profile of 27 year old men, who tend to stay in the job for up to five years.

The Department of Energy employment numbers for 2018/2019 showed that forecourt attendants earn a minimum of R1,313.55 per week (R5,250 a month), or R29.19 per hour, while cashiers earn slightly more (R1,382.40 per week).

Salary data for the industry showed that generally petrol attendants earn just above this minimum wage at R5,600 a month, going as high as R8,000 a month in some cases.

Road related costs

Much like other service industries, petrol attendants supplement their wages through tips. However, with the public facing increasing road related hikes in the coming months, tipping may take a back seat as motorists continue to feel the pinch.

Toll fees across South Africa will increase again on 1 March, adding yet more financial pain to already embattled consumers.

The Automobile Association (AA) said these increases will coincide with a likely increase to fuel prices in March, which, given the current data, look set to be significant. These increases will apply country-wide to all tolled roads.

“With the increase to fuel levies which comes into effect in April, the addition of a Carbon Tax on fuel (effective in June), the likely increase to fuel prices in March, and, now, the increase to toll fees across the country, consumers will see their money diminish even more,” the association said.

And motorists will face additional price pressure, after finance minister Tito Mboweni announced new tax hikes on fuel last week, which will add 29 and 30 cents to the overall price by June 2019.

This includes a hike in the general fuel levy by 5 cents, as well as a 15 cents increase to the Road Accident Fund levy for petrol and diesel. This will take effect from April 2019.

In June, the carbon tax will come into effect, which will add a further 9 cents per litre to the price of petrol, and 10 cents per litre for diesel.

By the end of the hikes, SA motorists will be paying R5.63 and R5.49 in taxes per litre for petrol and diesel, respectively.

On a vehicle with a 50 litre tank, this means that drivers will be paying between R274.50 (diesel) and R281.50 (petrol) in tax, every time they fill up.

Read: You will soon be taxed R280 every time you fill up with petrol

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How much petrol attendants earn in South Africa – and how much you tip them