Proposed minimum wage changes for South Africa

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South African unions are in talks with the government to equalize minimum wages across all sectors.

In a statement on Tuesday, June 21, trade federation Cosatu said this includes equalizing workers’ wages in expanded public works and community works schemes.

The government recently updated the South African minimum wage on March 1, 2022, with the amount set at R23.19 for every ordinary hour worked, representing a 6.9% increase on the minimum wage. fixed in 2021.

Unlike in previous years, no specific groups of workers have been subject to exceptions, with the minimum wage for domestic workers and agricultural workers now also set at R23.19 for each ordinary hour worked under planned equalization. However, workers employed under the expanded public works scheme are only entitled to R12.75 per hour.

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Expanded Public Works Program projects employ workers on a temporary or ongoing basis with government, contractors, or other non-governmental organizations. Due to the temporary nature and type of work, these jobs have historically not offered full pay.

New minimum wage

Discussions around a new minimum wage in South Africa are expected to take place later this year, with an official change expected in March 2023.

While the 2022 increase was higher than inflation, discussions on the 2023 minimum wage will have to take into account record fuel prices, rising food inflation and the possibility that the government may introduce a subsidy formal basic income in its 2023 national budget.

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The National Minimum Wage Commission, which typically makes its recommendations in November, considers the following factors when determining the annual adjustment:

  • Inflation, the cost of living and the need to maintain the value of the minimum wage;
  • Gross domestic product; salary levels and the results of collective bargaining; productivity;
  • Ability of employers to carry out their businesses; the operation of small, medium or micro-enterprises and new enterprises;
  • The likely impact of adjusting the recommendation on employment or job creation.

The National Minimum Wage Act was first proclaimed in 2018, setting historic precedent in protecting low-income (vulnerable) workers in South Africa and providing a platform to reduce inequalities and huge disparities income in the national labor market.

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Under the law, it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to unilaterally change working hours or other conditions of employment when implementing the national minimum wage.

The national minimum wage is the amount payable for normal working hours and does not include the payment of allowances (such as transport, tools, food or housing), payments in kind (board or housing), tips, bonuses and gifts.


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