The latest Quarterly Labor Force Survey (QLFS) from Statistics South Africa shows that the hiring of domestic workers has dropped significantly over the past year.
The QLFS shows the number of domestic workers in the country fell from 949,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 808,000 workers in the first quarter of 2022 – a shocking drop of 14.9 percentage points quarter-on-quarter.
Although this trend can partly be attributed to seasonal changes, the increase in the cost of living in early 2022 has also likely led to further downsizing, as domestic workers are considered a luxury for many South Africans. .
Domestic workers were effectively barred from working during the country’s highest level 5 lockdown in 2020. In addition, a number of households have laid off domestic workers, citing cost concerns.
Data published by the cleaning service SweepSouth in June 2021 showed that around 20% of domestic workers lost their jobs in the past year due to the pandemic. Although this figure has rebounded considerably with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the latest data points to increased fragility in the sector.
The Department of Employment and Labor said it planned to step up inspections in the domestic worker sector in a bid to ensure compliance with the new minimum wage and other regulatory changes.
The inspections come after South Africa brought wages for domestic workers in line with the national minimum wage for the first time in March 2022. Domestic workers can now also be registered as employees with the Workers’ Compensation Fund. work accident. The national minimum wage for each ordinary hour worked has been reduced from R21.69 to R23.19 from 1 March 2022.
Assuming that a domestic worker works 160 hours per month (eight hours per day, 20 days per month), the monthly wage amounts to R3,710 for the month.
Although this is the absolute lowest that South Africans can legally pay their domestic worker, data released by cleaning service SweepSouth in 2021 shows not only a dramatic drop in income due to the pandemic, but a continuing trend of workers servants not earning enough to cover their most basic needs.
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