When you hire someone to work at your home, it is common to want to know about the minimum wage for domestic workers.
Knowing about this and other matters is important so you respect your employee’s rights and make their working environment and conditions favorable and welcoming.
In turn, you should benefit from content workers who are more loyal and inspired to do a good job for you.
To reach this objective, in this article we will tell you all about labour law for domestic workers. You will also find out what you need to know to avoid accidentally violating labour law for domestic workers.
If you’re asking yourself questions such as “how much must i pay my domestic worker”, keep reading and learn all there is to know about the minimum wage for domestic workers and other related matters!
Before 2022, the exact value of the minimum wage for domestic workers varied depending on two factors: the first was how many ordinary hours they worked per week at your home and the second was the area where the work took place.
From 1 March 2022 onwards, however, the Department of Employment and labour has instated a national minimum wage for domestic workers in South Africa. This is an important move for the sector, since now the minimum wage for the workers is in line with the national minimum wage for other sectors.
As of 2022, the minimum rate for domestic work is R23.19 South African Rand for each ordinary hour worked. This means a person working 160 hours per month – 8 hours a day, 20 days a month – will then be entitled to R3,170 per month. It also means that the daily rate for domestic workers is R185,52.
It should be noted that the minimum wage value does not include payment of tips, bonuses, gifts or benefits to cover the costs of transportation, food, tools or accommodations. No value for payments in kind, such as board, food or lodging counts towards the minimum wage either.
Is A Domestic Worker Without A Contract Legalized?
No. According to South African labour law for domestic workers (and any other worker), any and all employees are entitled to a written contract.
Specific to domestic workers, The Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Sectoral Determination Seven for Domestic Workers require that all employees are appointed according to terms agreed upon a written contract valid under the law.
It doesn’t matter if the worker is part time or full time or if they are paid daily, weekly or monthly, they must have a contract. The contract must detail when the work is to begin and what are the working hours; what is the remuneration and benefits such as pension or medical aid; and what are the terms for leave and clauses of termination.
All this means that the contract must also delineate the duties, responsibilities and rights of said worker while they remain on the job.
An employment contract should ideally be signed by both employer and employee. If any parte is illiterate, they can sign with a fingerprint, for instance. But even if the contract is not signed by one or both parties, as long as the working relation is established and ongoing, the contract is considered to be valid and in effect.
How To Register A Domestic Worker UIF
Any and all employees who work for you for more than 24 hours per month must be registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). To do this, an employer must register for a UIF reference number. This and employee registration can be done through the following methods:
• By telephone at the number: 012 337 1680.
• By e-mail at the address: [email protected].
• By mail to the address: The UIF – Pretoria – 0052
• At the nearest Labour Centre, the location of which can be found on the linked website.
After you are done with the registering process and have a reference number, you can link it to as many employers as you wish to hire. You can also use it to access the UIF website to do transactions and follow along any ongoing process.
2% of any employee’s earnings must be paid by the employer to the Department of labout and Employment per month. 1% of this total is discounted from the employee’s salary, but the other 1% is paid for by the employer.
More detailed information about how you can register an employee with the UIF can be found on the website for the Department of Labour and Employment. There you will find out what is the necessary documentation to apply for the register as well as the procedures that must be taken to do it.
In case of termination, employers may claim UIF benefits from the Department of Labour and Employment. Employers must provide them with updated UI-19 and Salary Schedule forms so they may apply for and claim their benefits.
Domestic Worker Rights
Any employee who works for more than 24 hours a month for the same employer is protected by the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). This is true for domestic workers as well.
Part Time Domestic Workers Rights
Part time work is employment for fewer hours per week than full time employment. In South Africa, full time employment means a work week of 45 hours, so any contract for less than that qualifies for part time work.
Part time domestic workers are entitled to a written contract just like any other worker. This applies if they have a fixed employment period, work more than 24 hours a month for the same employer, work only a day on the week, work every weekend or work every day but only during half the work day.
If these conditions are met, the employee is protected by the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). This means that the rights of a part time domestic worker are the same as the ones of a full time worker.
Full Time Domestic Workers Rights
Domestic workers are allowed to work for a maximum of 45 hours a week, with a limit of 9 hours per day if working only 5 days per week or 8 hours per day if working more than 5 days per week.
If this limit is breached, workers are entitled to overtime pay. It is calculated at a rate of 1.5 their normal wage for the period of overtime, or 2.0 times if it is sunday overtime. If workers are made to work during public holidays, they are entitled to an additional day’s pay.
Payment must be made in cash, check or direct deposit into an account chosen by the employee. Payment must be accompanied by a pay slip, which must be kept as copies by the employer for fiscalization purposes.
There are a list of possible deductions to be made from a domestic worker’s salary, which include:
• Sum to be kept for savings or pension funds set up by or in agreement between the employee and the employer;
• Medical insurance;
• Trade union subscription fees;
• Garnishes made under fair and valid reasons;
• Accommodations for live-in employees, as long as the deduction is not over 10% of total wage and the room is in a good repair and weatherproofing condition.
Good conditions for a room include that it has at least one door and window and both can be locked from the inside. The room must also be fitted with bathroom access, or include a shower or bath and a toilet.
There are certain deductions which are illegal and cannot be made under any circumstances. These include:
• Any amount that would be greater than the actual remuneration received;
• Deductions for damages expected during activities, such as ironing, or breakages of appliances or dishes, etc;
• The value of meals provided during working time
• Clothing if the employer demands the use of a uniform or provides clothing to the employees;
• To pay for necessary work equipment.
Employees are entitled to certain leave of absence periods. These include:
• Annual leave of three weeks per year of a day for every 17 days of work;
• Part time domestic worker’s leave can be calculated as 1 hour of annual leave per 17 hours of work;
• Sick leave equal to the amount of days worked during a six-week period. This amount can be used during a three-year cycle;
• Parental leave, which can be a 10 consecutive days unpaid leave for paternity leave or four months unpaid leave for maternity leave;
• Employers may strike deals to pay for a portion of parental leave, including the whole leave of absence period;
• Employees are entitled to claim UIF benefits during parental leave;
Employees are entitled to meal intervals, which are calculated according to the number of hours worked per day.
Finally, domestic workers are also entitled to written employment contracts signed by both parties.
Domestic Worker Retirement Package
There is no legal obligation to pay any sort of retirement package to a domestic worker in South Africa. Legally, retired domestic workers may try to claim UIF benefits from the Department of Labour and Employment.
It is very common, however, that employers make a deal with domestic workers for a certain payment upon retirement.
The value of this payment will be decided jointly by the employer and employee, usually taking into account the value of the minimum wage for domestic workers. It may follow a ratio of one week of pay per year worked or any other criteria. It is advisable to add this kind of deal as a term of the employment contract.
Termination Of Domestic Worker
Termination of a domestic worker can only happen if there is a fair and valid reason for the worker to be let go, according to South African labour law. In this way, it is the same as any other worker class.
Examples of valid and fair reasons are frequently absent employees, or cases when the employee often mishandles their duties or assignments. Domestic workers who act against their employers, harm them or destroy their property may also be let go with valid reason.
Another requisite for termination of a domestic worker is that fair procedure is followed so the employee is not caught unprepared by a sudden dismissal.
If an employer refuses to comply with fair procedure or does not provide a valid and fair reason for the termination, the employee can call upon the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to look for resolution. This must be done within thirty days from the date of dismissal.
Upon dismissal, all money owed to a domestic worker must be fully paid off. This includes wages, allowances and benefits, paid time off that was not taken, pro rata leave and other values.
Employers that need to dismiss an employee due to change to their economic situation, needs for personnel or other so-called operational requirements are allowed to do so. In this case, however, they are legally obligated to pay severance to any terminated employees, which includes domestic workers.
In all cases, employers are obligated to give notice of termination in writing and in advance. In case of illiterate workers, the notice must be read and explained by the employer.
If the domestic worker has been on the job for up to six weeks, notice of termination must be given a week in advance. Workers with more than six weeks on the job must receive notice four weeks in advance.
In case of live-in employees, they have the right to a one-month notice during which they may stay on the accommodation. This is so that they can find an alternative place to live.
Also, upon termination any employee is entitled to a certificate of service if they so require.
Domestic Worker Termination Letter Example
Below is a basic model for your domestic worker termination letter:
(Name of the terminated employee) (Location, day/month/year)
(Address of the terminated employee)
As per our discussion today/(another date), your employment with us/(your name) is terminated effective immediately/(another date).
(Provide a valid and fair reason for the termination: poor performance, absenteeism, etc)
Payment accrued for your vacations will be included in your final paycheck which you will receive on your regular payday, (date). The final paycheck can be picked up in person or, alternatively, it can be mailed to your home or transferred to your bank account, as per your convenience.
We wish you luck in your future ventures.
Please note that this is a sample letter, which should be adapted, expanded or shortened to suit your specific circumstances.
Now that you know all about matters such as the minimum wage for domestic workers and other related questions, keep reading our blog and discover other useful information and tips!