All the new minimum wages in SA – with big increases for domestic workers

Mar 16, 2021 | Article

  • The new national minimum wage is R21.69 per hour, an increase of 4.5%. 
  • Farm workers’ minimum wage is now equal to the national minimum wage for the first time. 
  • The minimum wage for domestic workers is still below the national wage, but has been hiked by 23% this year – and should be on par by 2022.

The government has gazetted the new national minimum wage: R21.69 per hour. This is an increase of 4.5% from last year.

Last year, the National Minimum Wage Commission recommended that the minimum wage be increased by inflation (currently around 3%) plus 1.5%.

It noted that inflation for poorer households is currently significantly higher than for higher-income earners, due to the relatively sharp increase in food prices. Because the households of minimum-wage earners spend more of their income on food, this hurts them more than higher earners.

Also, the minimum wage is still below the upper-bound poverty line (of R1,268 per person per month).

Domestic workers

The minimum wages of domestic workers increased from R15.57 per hour to R19.09, a hike of almost 23%. The commission wants the minimum wage for domestic workers – who still, even after the latest increase, earn 12% less than other minimum wage workers – to be exactly the same as the national wage by next year.

Apart from house cleaning work, domestic workers also include gardeners, drivers and people who look after children, the aged, sick, frail or disabled in a private household (but not on a farm).

Farm workers

From this year, the minimum wage for farm workers is now equal to the national minimum wage, after earning 10% less in the past year. This is thanks to a 16% bump of R18.68 to R21.69 this year.

In a note, the employment law service Labourwise reminded employers that the national minimum wage excludes allowances that are paid to enable employees to work (such as transport and equipment), or payment in kind (such as board or accommodation), as well as bonuses, tips or food.

“So, for example, one cannot argue that you pay an employee less than the minimum wage because you contribute to their uniform or provide them with meals.”

Source: Business Insider