Domestic Workers – What you should know

The Department of Labour has published useful guides to give you a plain English summary of key points within the legislation. 

While the guides are not a substitute for the Acts, Amendments and Sectoral Determinations on which they are based, they do explain the basics of our labour laws.

Below is a list of all the sector related Basic Guides.

[sections] [section title=”Basic Guide to Annual Leave”]
Sectoral Determination 7 requires that workers get a minimum of 21 consecutive days of annual leave each year.  Employers can only pay workers instead of granting annual leave when employment is terminated.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

The provisions for annual leave do not apply to domestic workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer.
See
Number of Leave Days
Workers must get annual leave of at least –
  • 21 consecutive days, or
  • 1 day for every 17 days worked, or
  • 1 hour for every 17 hours worked.
Timing of Leave
Both the employer and worker must agree to the timing of leave.  If they cannot agree, the employer makes the final decision.
An employer may not require or permit a worker to work during any period of annual leave.
Leave must be granted not later than 6 months after the end of the annual leave cycle (12 month periods from date of employment).
Pay Instead of Annual Leave
Employers must pay workers the equivalent amount for annual leave as paid for days worked. This is to be paid before the workers leave period.
Employers cannot pay workers instead of granting leave, except on termination of employment.
Annual Leave and Public Holidays
A public holiday cannot be counted as annual leave.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Child Labour”]

In the interests of the well-being; education; physical and mental health; and spiritual, moral and social development of children; the employment of children under the age of 15 is illegal, and children under the age of 18 may not be employed to do inappropriate work.

Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Children Under 15

It is a criminal offence to employ a child under the age of 15.

Children Under 18

Children aged 15 to 18 may not be employed to do work inappropriate for their age or work that places them at risk.

[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Deductions”]
Only certain deductions can be made from a domestic worker’s pay.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

The provisions for deductions do not apply to domestic workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer.
See
Conditions for Deductions
Employers may not-
  • charge workers for-
    • training
    • equipment or tools
    • work clothing
    • food
    • fines
Employers may deduct-
  • the rand value of any unpaid leave
  • up to 10% of total wages for-
    • accommodation
    • repayment of loans or advances
  • amounts paid to third parties (e.g. banks, unions, etc.) on behalf of the worker (with worker’s written consent)
Deductions for Damage or Loss
Deductions for damage or loss caused by the worker may only be made if –
  • the employer has followed a fair procedure and given the worker a chance to show why the deduction should not be made,
  • the worker agrees in writing, and
  • the total deduction is not more than 25% of the worker’s net pay.

Based on Legislation in Section 34, of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act

Deductions for Benefit Funds
Employers must pay deductions and employer contributions to benefit funds (pension, provident, retirement, medical aid, etc.) to the fund within 7 days.

Based on Legislation in Section 34, of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act

[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Employment Contracts”]
Employers must give workers certain details of their employment in writing. This contract must be kept for 3 years after termination.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

The provisions for employment contracts do not apply to domestic workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer.

See

Written Particulars of Employment
At the start of employment, employers must give workers a document containing the following information:
Employer and Worker Details
  • Employer’s full name
  • Employer’s address
Employment Details
  • Place/s of work
  • Date of employment
  • Working hours and days of work
Payment Details
  • Salary or wage, or the rate and method of calculating wages
  • Rate for overtime
  • Any other cash payments
  • Any payments in kind and their value
  • Frequency of payment
  • Any deductions
  • Value and payment for any food or accommodation.
Leave Details
  • Any leave to which the worker is entitled
Notice/Contract Period
  • Period of notice required
  • Period of contract

This document must be updated if any details change.

An employer must keep a copy of this document while the worker is employed, and for 3 years thereafter.

If a worker is unable to understand the contract, the employer is to explain the information in a way that the farm worker understands.

[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Family Responsibility Leave”]
Workers may take up to 3 days of paid leave a year to attend to certain family responsibility.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or

are covered by –

  • another sectoral determination, or
  • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See

Special rules governing the employment of domestic workers

Number of Leave Days
Full time workers may take 5 days of paid family responsibility leave during each annual leave cycle (12 month periods from date of employment).
Family responsibility leave expires at the end of the annual cycle.
Reasons for Leave
You may take family responsibility leave –
  • when your child is born,
  • when your child is sick,

in the event of the death of your –

  • spouse or life partner
  • parent or adoptive parent
  • grandparent
  • child or adopted child
  • grandchild
  • sibling.
Proof
Employers may require reasonable proof of the birth, illness or death for which a worker requests leave.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Maternity Leave”]
Pregnant women may take 4 months of maternity leave, starting 1 month before their due date.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

The provisions for maternity leave do not apply to domestic workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer.
See
Number of Leave Days
Pregnant workers are entitled to at least 4 consecutive months of maternity leave.
Timing of Leave
Workers may take maternity leave 1 month before their due date, or earlier or later as agreed or required for health reasons.
Safety of Pregnant or Nursing Workers
A worker who is pregnant or nursing may not do work that is unsafe for her or her child.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Minimum Wages”]
Minimum wages and annual increases for domestic workers.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See

Special rules governing the employment of domestic workers

Annual Wage Increases
Workers must receive an annual increase of at least 8% every year on the 1st of November.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Overtime”]
The amount of overtime a worker may work is limited.  Workers must get 1.5 times their normal pay or paid time off in exchange for overtime.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Overtime Hours
Workers may not work –
  • overtime, unless by agreement
  • more than 10 hours’ overtime a week (collective agreement may increase this to 15 hours per week for up to 2 months a year)
  • more than 12 hours on any day.
Pay for Overtime
Employers must pay workers overtime at 1.5 times the normal wage.
Alternatively, a worker may agree to receive paid time off.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Pay Slips”]
Each time workers are paid, employers must give them a pay slip with certain information.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

The provisions for pay slips do not apply to domestic workers working less than 24 hours a month for an employer.

See

Content of Pay Slips

Employers must give workers the following information in writing when paid:

  • employers name and address
  • workers name and occupation
  • period for which payment is made
  • total salary or wages
  • any deductions
  • actual amount paid
  • if relevant to the calculation of pay:
    • workers pay and overtime rates
    • number of ordinary and overtime hours worked
    • number of hours worked on a Sunday or a public holiday
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Public Holidays”]
Workers must get paid time off for public holidays, but if they agree to work, they must be paid double their normal wage.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Pay for Public Holidays
Workers must get paid time off for any public holiday that falls on a working day.
Working on Public Holidays
Working on a public holiday is by agreement only.
Workers must be paid double the normal wage for working on a public holiday.
Exchanging Public Holidays
A public holiday can be exchanged with another day by agreement.
Public Holidays and Annual Leave
A public holiday cannot be counted as annual leave.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Sick Leave”]
Workers may take up to 6 weeks of sick leave on full pay in a 3-year period.  Employers may insist on proof of illness before paying a worker for sick leave.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Number of Leave Days
An employee is entitled to 6 weeks’ paid sick leave in a period of 36 months.
However, during the first 6 months of employment, workers are only entitled to 1 day’s paid sick leave for every 26 days worked.
Proof of Illness
A medical certificate may be provided by a:
  • medical practitioner
  • clinic nurse
  • traditional healer
  • community health worker
  • psychologist
An employer may require a medical certificate before paying workers who are absent for more than 2 consecutive days or who are often absent (more than twice in an 8-week period).

Fees that are paid for medical treatment by an employer may be deducted from the workers’ pay.

[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Temporary Employment Services”]
Employment agencies are liable to comply with the regulations set out in this sectoral determination.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –

work on farms; or

are covered by –

  • another sectoral determination, or
  • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See

Special rules governing the employment of domestic workers

Guidelines for Employment Agencies
Workers whose services are provided to a client by an employment agency are employed by the agency. The agency is the employer of the worker.
The employment agency and client are both responsible to adhere to the provisions set out in this sectoral determination.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Termination”]
Certain procedures must be followed when either an employer or worker wishes to terminate employment.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Notice of Termination
Notice must be given in writing, except when it is given to an illiterate worker.
Notice Period
Worker employed for… Notice Period
6 months or less 1 week
More than 6months 4 weeks

An employer and worker may agree to a longer notice period.

Notice of termination may not be given during any period of leave entitled to a worker, except sick leave.

Pay Instead of Notice
Employers may decide to waive the notice period, but the worker must still be paid for the notice period.
Payment on Termination
On termination of employment the employer must pay a worker all monies due to the worker-
  • wages
  • allowance or other payments
  • paid time off
Accommodation on Termination
If an employer terminates the contract of employment before a date on which the employer is entitled to, they are required to provide-
  • 1 month accommodation
  • until the contract is lawfully terminated
Severance Pay
Retrenched workers (dismissed due to employer’s operational requirements or insolvency) are entitled to 1 week’s severance pay for every year of service.
Certificate of Service
On termination of employment, workers are entitled to a certificate of service.
The certificate of service must state-
  • domestic worker’s full name
  • name and address of the employer
  • date of commencement and termination of employment
  • title of job and brief description of work
  • any relevant training received
  • pay received at termination
  • reason for termination (if requested by the worker)
Unfair Dismissal
Workers who feel they have been unfairly dismissed should contact the CCMA.

Based on Legislation in Section 37, of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Working Hours”]
The maximum working hours including meal breaks, rest periods, and night work allowed for workers.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Maximum Working Hours
Number of days worked per week

Maximum

Hours per day

Hours per week

Ordinary

Total

Ordinary

Overtime

1 – 5

9

12

45

10

6 – 7

8

12

45

10

Compressed Working Week
Workers may agree, in writing, to work up to 12 hours a day without getting overtime pay.
However, these workers may not work more than ?
  • 45 ordinary hours a week
  • 10 hours? overtime a week
  • 5 days a week
Averaging of Working Hours
A collective agreement may allow for working hours to be averaged over a period of up to 4 months.
However, workers may not work more than ?
  • an average of 45 hours a week
  • an average of 5 hours? overtime a week
Meal Breaks
Workers must have a meal break of 60 minutes after 5 hours? work.
A written agreement may ?
  • reduce meal intervals to 30 minutes
  • eliminate meal intervals for workers who work less than 6 hours a day
Rest Periods
Workers must have a rest period of ?
  • 12 hours each day; and
  • 36 consecutive hours each week (must include Sunday, unless otherwise agreed)
Night Work
Workers working between 18h00 and 06h00 must ?
  • get an allowance, or
  • work reduced hours, and
  • have transport available to them.
[/section] [section title=”Basic Guide to Working on Sundays”]
Workers must be paid a higher wage or receive paid time off in exchange for working on a Sunday.
Application
Sectoral Determination 7 applies to all domestic workers  (including independent contractors and those employed by agencies), except domestic workers who –
  • work on farms; or
  • are covered by –
    • another sectoral determination, or
    • a bargaining council agreement.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies in respect of any matter not covered by this sectoral determination.

See
Pay for Work on Sundays
Workers who only work on a Sunday from time to time must get 2 times the normal wage.
Workers who usually work on a Sunday must get 1.5 times the normal wage.
Paid Time Off
Instead of getting a higher rate, workers may agree to get paid time off in exchange for working on a Sunday.
[/section] [/sections]

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