The New Minimum Wage
- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - January 2019
On 27 November 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into effect a number of amendments to the labour law in South Africa known as the Labour Relations Amendment Act of 2018. Most notably, these new regulations set a new minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Act of 2018. This is a monumental moment for South Africa, as these provisions take a huge step toward addressing the wage gap in South Africa, as well as working toward elevating the living standards of employees.
As of 1 January 2019, the minimum wage is now set at R20 per hour for ordinary hours not exceeding 45 hours per week, R18 for agricultural or farm workers and R15 for domestic workers. This equates to about R3 500 per month, however, the amount will depend on the number of hours the person works. Part-time workers are also included in the minimum wage category and may also not earn less than R20 per hour, and they may not be paid for less than 4 hours per day. Therefore, even though a part-time employee worked only two hours in a specific day, their wages may not be less than R80 for that day.
However, there are provisions made for employers who may not be able to afford the minimum wage rate immediately. An employer may apply for an exemption for a limited period of time not exceeding a year, provided they can prove that they are not able to afford the new minimum wage rate immediately. Should an employer not be granted an exemption and they still pay below minimum wage they may be subject to a fine as proposed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
The new law does not include the wages of those working for the National Defence Force, The National Intelligence Agency or the South African Secret service. There are also provisions in the act regarding the wages of those who are undergoing a learnership programme. In these cases, a minimum weekly allowance is provided for within the terms of the National Qualifications Framework.
Hopefully, this paves the way for better payment for all South Africans in the working sector, especially if the minimum wage rate is reviewed regularly to account for inflation.
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