19 September 2018


Workers one step closer to improved minimum wage

by: Semphete Correspondent    date: 01 June 2018

South African workers will soon earn no less than R3500 per month. This after Parliament passed the National Minimum Wage Bill on Tuesday. 
This brings the Bill one step closer to being signed into Law. 
The National Minimum Wage Bill seeks to improve the lives of the lowest paid workers in the labour market and carries the promise of addressing the challenge of inequality and poverty in South Africa.
In terms of the Bill, all workers who do not fall under the farm or forestry, domestic sectors, Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and learnerships should not be paid less than the set R3500, which is equal to R20 minimum wage per hour. 
Other sectors such as the farming and domestic ones are governed by their Sectoral Determination that is revised every year and sectoral wage determinations will continue.
According to the National Minimum Wage Bill, the farm/forestry sector’s minimum wage is R18 an hour, which is 90% of the R3500 set minimum wage. The domestic sector stands at 75%, which amounts to R15 per hour, EPWP workers will get 55% or R11 per hour, while the wage for learnership agreements are set out in Schedule 2 of the National Minimum Wage Bill. 
These amounts will, however, be adjusted within two years of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage. Employers who cannot afford the minimum wage will be exempted provided they follow the available processes to apply for the exemption, in which they are required to provide their financial information, household income, commercial balance sheet, working hours and motivation.
Government has launched an online tool for employers to apply for an exemption and only after a thorough audit of the company will the Department of Labour determine the granting or rejection of such an exemption.
Though Parliament successfully passed the National Minimum Wage Bill on Tuesday, it was passed by just 201 votes of the 400 in the House after the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) walked out on the process in protest because they do not agree with the amount set for the minimum wage. Those who support the minimum wage believe it will reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth because workers will spend more as their income increases. But some argue the minimum wage would lead to more job losses because some employers won’t be able to afford the higher wage bills.
The National Minimum Wage was initially meant to be introduced on 1 May, but an agreement was reached to allow MPs time to consider more than 40 public submissions that were received on the draft legislation. 
When he was still Deputy President, current South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, spearheaded the process for the country to have a National Minimum Wage. Ramaphosa said having a minimum wage for the country means that the lives of over six million South Africans earning less than this level would be improved and this will help reduce inequality and poverty. 
The Bill will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for confirmation and then to President Ramaphosa to be signed into Law.