Domestic workers, our nation’s companions.

Domestic workers, our nation’s companions.
Celebrating how the conditions of employment have improved for domestic workers.
The last few years have seen improvements made to the conditions of employment for South Africa's domestic workers. Our July article details everything a domestic worker's employment should include, to make sure that you are up to date and compliant.
Michael Visser
Michael Visser - Head of Legal - Helpline
30 June 2022 | 4 minute read
Dom workers Website no text

It is estimated that there are 1 to 1.5 million domestic workers in South Africa, but they have had few of the employment protections you would expect.

Many domestic workers were, and in some areas still are, subjected to

  • Unlawful deductions
  • Underpayment of national minimum wage
  • Non-compliant employment contracts
  • Long hours of work and non-registration to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Diseases Act.

The full extent of the need for change was exposed during the COVID-19 lock down, with the necessary changes to the Domestic Worker’s Act made to support the carers, gardeners and child-minders of our cities and suburbs.

The most notable change being that 1 March 2022 marked the first time that domestic workers are entitled to the same rate as the normal minimum wage, instead of the 75% of minimum wage from previous years. As your companion in employment practices, we have put together all the information you need to ensure that the domestic workers in your life are treated fairly, in accordance the updated labour practices.

Who is a Domestic Worker?

A “domestic worker” means an employee who performs domestic work in the home of his or her employer, and includes

  • gardeners
  • cleaners
  • persons employed by a household as a driver of a motor vehicle; and
  • persons who takes care of any person in that home

What the amended Minimum Wage act means for domestic workers

The national minimum wage act. Act 9 of 2018 sets out minimum wages for domestics and specifies the working conditions such as hours of work, overtime pay, salary increases, deductions, annual and sick leave.

This legislation also lists adjusted minimum wages specific to the urban areas (‘A’ Areas) and the non-urban areas (‘B’ Areas), even though the definition of the areas have not changed.

Who do these changes affect?

To the those in the country who work as domestics, gardeners, childminders (including drivers of children) and those who look after the sick, aged or disabled in private homes. The legislation also covers domestic workers who work as independent contractors.

Hours of Work, Leave and Dismissal

The Basic conditions of employment Act, and the Labour relations acts state that domestic workers should not work more than 45 hours a week and should not work more than nine hours a day if they work a five-day week, or more than eight hours a day if they work more than five days a week.

Domestic workers should not work more than 15 hours overtime per week, and not more than three hours on any one day. They should also receive double pay on Sundays or public holidays.

An employer wishing to dismiss a worker must give a week of notice if the domestic has been employed for six months or less and two weeks’ notice if employed between 6 and 12 months. If the employee has worked more than 12 months, 4 weeks' notice must be given.

Employers whose domestics live on the property may deduct no more 10% of their salary for accommodation, providing the accommodation complies with the minimum standards laid down in the legislation. This means that an employer may deduct a maximum of 10% for lodging if it adheres to these requirements. If not, the deductions would be unlawful.

Injuries at work

As of February 2021, domestic workers qualify for benefits under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. This means that domestic workers or dependents of a domestic worker who died as a result of injuries incurred while on duty, will also be able to claim from the Compensation Fund.

UIF

All employers must register their employees for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and are advised to sign an employment contract with their domestic worker. It is recommended that even in the case of multiple employers, each employer registers with UIF. If you need a contract, you can download one from our site, for free.

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