New minimum wages for domestic workers in South Africa have been published, on the 24th of November 2014 in Government Gazette No. 38237, and must be applied from 1 December 2014 until 30 November 2015.
In major metropolitan areas, domestic workers have an hourly rate of R10.95, the weekly rate is R476.68 and the monthly rate is R2 065.47. Domestic workers who do not work in major metros have an hourly rate of R9.30, weekly R418.32, and monthly R1 812.57.
Minimum wages for domestic workers from December 1, 2014 to November 30, 2015, working 27 ordinary hours per week or less were also adjusted. For those in major metropolitan areas the hourly rate is R12.40, weekly R334.74 and monthly R1 450.33. Those not working in major metros would receive an hourly rate of R10.98, weekly R296.35, and monthly R1 284.09.
The Sectoral Determination for the Domestic Worker Sector applies to the following workers:
- All domestic workers in South Africa working in a private household
- People employed by employment services
- Independent contractors who are doing domestic work
- A person doing gardening in a private home
- People who look after children (nannies), sick or old people and people with disabilities in a private home
- A person driving for the household.
Here are some important rights applicable to domestic workers:
- TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT
In terms of the Sectoral Determination, any party to an employment contract must give written notice, except when an illiterate domestic worker gives it, as follows:
- 1 week, if employed for 6 months or less; and
- 4 weeks if employed for more than 6 months.
Notice must be explained orally by or on behalf of the employer to a domestic worker if he/she is not able to understand it. The employer is required to provide the domestic worker who resides in accommodation that is situated on the premises of the employer or that is supplied by the employer, with accommodation for a period of one month, or if it is a longer period, until the contract of employment could lawfully have been terminated.
All monies due to the domestic worker for any wages, allowance or other payments that have not been paid, paid time-off not taken and pro-rata leave must be paid.
The services of an employee may not be terminated unless a valid and fair reason exists and fair procedure is followed. If an employee is dismissed without a valid reason or without a fair procedure, the employee may approach the CCMA for assistance.
In the event of a domestic worker being unable to return to work due to disability, the employer must investigate the nature of the disability and ascertain whether or not it is permanent or temporary. The employer must try to accommodate the employee as far as possible for example, amending or adapting their duties to suit the disability. However, in the event of it not being possible for the employer to adapt the domestic workers’ duties and/or to find alternatives, then such employer may terminate the services of the domestic worker. The Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 sets out the procedures to be followed at the termination of services in the Code of Good Practice, in Schedule 8.
- PAYMENT OF WAGES
A domestic worker must earn at least the minimum wage prescribed for their specific area and working hours.
- TRANSPORT ALLOWANCES AND BONUSES
Sectoral Determination 7: Domestic Sector, South Africa does not regulate these and are therefore open to negotiation between the parties.
- PAY SLIPS
Employers must give workers the following information in writing when paid:
- employers name and address
- workers name and occupation
- period for which payment is made
- total salary or wages
- any deductions
- actual amount paid
- if relevant to the calculation of pay:
- workers pay and overtime rates
- number of ordinary and overtime hours worked
- number of hours worked on a Sunday or a public holiday
- WORKING HOURS AND MEAL INTERVALS
5.1 Normal hours (excluding overtime)
A domestic worker may not be made to:
- work more than 45 hours a week; or
- work more than 9 hours per day for a 5 day work week; or
- work more than 8 hours a day for a 6 day work week.
A domestic worker may not work more than 15 hours overtime per week but may not work more than 12 hours on any day, including overtime. Overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the employee’s normal wage or an employee may agree to receive paid time-off.
5.3 Daily and weekly rest-periods
5.3.1 A daily rest period of 12 consecutive hours and a weekly rest period of 36 consecutive hours, which must include Sunday, unless otherwise agreed, must be allowed.
5.3.2 The daily rest period may, by agreement, be reduced to 10 hours for an employee who lives on the premises whose meal interval lasts for at least three hours.
5.3.3 The weekly rest period may by agreement be extended to 60 consecutive hours every two weeks or be reduced to eight hours in any week if the rest period in the following week is extended equivalently.
5.4.1 Standby means any period between 20:00 and 06:00 the next day when a domestic worker is required to be at the workplace and is permitted to rest or sleep but must be available to work if necessary.
5.4.2 May only be done if it is agreed in writing and on not more than five times per month must be compensated by the payment of an allowance of at least R30,00 per shift.
5.5 Meal Intervals
A domestic worker is entitled to a 1 hour break for a meal after not more than 5 hours work. Such interval may be reduced to 30 minutes, by agreement between the parties. When a second meal interval is required because of overtime worked, it may be reduced to not less than 15 minutes. If required or permitted to work during this period, remuneration must be paid.
- SUNDAYS AND PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
Domestic workers may not be forced to work on Sundays or Public Holidays and if they voluntarily agree to work on such days overtime must be paid.
7.1 Annual Leave
Annual leave may not be less than three weeks per year for full-time workers or by agreement, one day for every 17 days worked or one hour for every 17 hours worked. The leave must be granted not later than six months after completion of the period of 12 consecutive months of employment. The leave may not be granted concurrent with any period of sick leave, nor with a period of notice of termination of the contract of employment.
7.2 Sick Leave
During every sick leave cycle of 36 months an employee is entitled to an amount of paid sick leave equal to the number of days the employee would normally work during a period of six weeks. During the first six months of employment, an employee is entitled to one day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked. The employer is not required to pay an employee if the employee has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days or on more than two occasions during an eight-week period and, on request by the employer, does not produce a medical certificate stating that the employee was unable to work for the duration of the employee’s absence on account of sickness or injury.
7.3 Maternity Leave
The employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months’ maternity leave. The employer is not obliged to pay the domestic worker for the period for which she is off work due to her pregnancy. However the parties may agree that the domestic worker will receive part of or her entire salary/wage for the time that she is off due to pregnancy.
7.4 Family responsibility leave
Employees employed for longer than four months and for at least four days a week are entitled to take five days’ paid family responsibility leave during each leave cycle when the employee’s child is born, or when the employee’s child is sick or in the event of the death of the employee’s spouse or life partner or parent, adoptive
parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild or sibling.
7.5 Timing of Leave
Both the employer and worker must agree to the timing of leave. If they cannot agree, the employer makes the final decision. An employer may not require or permit a worker to work during any period of annual leave. Leave must be granted not later than 6 months after the end of the annual leave cycle (12 month periods from date of employment).
7.6 Pay Instead of Annual Leave
Employers must pay workers the equivalent amount for annual leave as paid for days worked. This is to be paid before the workers leave period. Employers cannot pay workers instead of granting leave, except on termination of employment.
7.7 Annual Leave and Public Holidays
A public holiday cannot be counted as annual leave.
- DEDUCTION FROM THE REMUNERATION
The Sectoral Determination prohibits an employer from deducting any monies from the worker’s wages without his/her written permission.7
A deduction of not more than 10% of the wage may be deducted for a room or other accommodation provided it is kept in a good condition has at least one window and a door, which can be locked, and he/she has access to a bathroom.
- PROHIBITION OF EMPLOYMENT
The Sectoral Determination prohibits employment of any person under the age of 15 and it is therefore important for an employer to verify the age of the domestic worker by requesting a copy of the identity document or birth certificate.
- OTHER ISSUES
There are certain other issues which are not regulated by the Sectoral Determination such as probationary periods, right of entry to the employers premises, afternoons off, weekends off and pension schemes, medical aid schemes, training/school fees, funeral benefits and savings account, however the aforementioned may be negotiated between the parties and included in the contract of employment.