Domestic workers have received an early Christmas present thanks to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.
Domestic workers will as of December 1 receive a prescribed minimum salary of R8.34 per hour or R375.19 per week or R1625.70 per month from their employers.
Johan Botes, director in the employment practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr explains, said: "The Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 empowers the minister to lay down minimum wages for workers in various sectors. The minister previously increased the minimum wage for domestic workers in 2008 by setting down a minimum wage - R1340.95 per month as from December 1, 2008 - which was then increased on December 1 in 2009 and 2010 by the consumer price index plus one percent."
Botes said the wage increases should come as welcome relief for this valuable, but vulnerable sector of the economy. The statutory minimum wage should not be seen as the benchmark, but rather the absolute minimum wage to be paid to domestic workers.
"Employers failing to adhere to the minimum increase from December 1, 2011 should not expect any sympathy from labour inspectors should the latter pay a visit. A labour inspector may issue a compliance order to an employer who fails to pay the prescribed wage. This may be made an order of court. The employee is also entitled to interest for arrears remuneration."
Where domestic workers work for less than 27 hours per week, the minimum rate is R9.85/R265.94/R1,152.32 per day/week/month. Those domestic workers employed in smaller municipal areas are entitled to reduced rates - R7.06/R317.62/R1,376.25 for those working more than 27 hours per week. And R8.33/R224.90/R974.49 for those working less than 27 hours per week, Botes said.