What the law says about annual increases

There is a great deal of confusion about the compulsory increase which domestic workers were entitled to as from the beginning of November last year and which will apply again in November this year.

The Saturday Star, January 10, 2004

What the law says about annual increases

By: Charlene Clayton

There is a great deal of confusion about the compulsory increase which domestic workers were entitled to as from the beginning of November last year and which will apply again in November this year.

People are confused about what happens when they have already given their domestic worker an increase and when the worker already earns more than the minimum wage.

The Sectoral Determination for Domestic Workers states that employers should have given their domestic workers a salary increase of eight percent on November 1, 2003. On November 1 this year, an increase of eight percent must again be given.

Anna-Marie van Zyl, the executive manager of the employment standards at the Department of Labour, says that this means that all domestic workers were entitled to an eight percent increase at the beginning of November last year and will again be entitled to an eight percent increase in November this year, irrespective of whether they are currently being paid the minimum wage or more than the minimum wage.

Even if you employed your domestic worker a month or two before November last year when the increase was to take place, you should have given your domestic worker an increase, Van Zyl says.

If, however, you gave your domestic worker an increase in the year preceding November 1, 2003 (that is, sometime between November 1, 2002 to October 31, 2003) and your contract with your domestic stipulates a date, other than November 1, on which your worker will be entitled to an annual increase, you are not expected to give your domestic worker a second increase, she says.

Domestic workers are entitled to receive minimum hourly wages which vary depending on the area in which you live. The rate for cities is slightly higher that the rate of rural towns.

The minimum wage depends on the area in which the domestic worker is employed as well as whether he or she works for more or for less than 27 hours a week.

For further information on minimum wages and other legal obligations towards your domestic worker, visit the websites of the Department of Labour (www.labour.gov.za) and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (www.uif.gov.za).

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